Former school fire in Bishop Auckland was "started deliberately"

The Northern Echo: The damage would have been worse without fire commander's quick thinking The damage would have been worse without fire commander's quick thinking

A BLAZE that could have destroyed a derelict building next to the fire-damaged remains of Stan Laurel’s school was started deliberately, the fire service has said.

Crews from Bishop Auckland were called to reports of the roof being alight at the empty Durham County Council building on Kingsway at about 11.20pm yesterday (Saturday December 21).

The building, itself a former school, neighbours the former King James I Grammar School building where Stanley Jefferson, later known as Stan Laurel, was a pupil between 1902 and 1903.

The King James building was extensively damaged by an arson attack in 2007.

Dominic Brown from the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said smart thinking by the incident commander enabled crews to manage Saturday night’s blaze and put it out before it spread too far.

The aerial ladder unit from Darlington was quickly brought to the scene, which helped to stifle the fire and stopped it from spreading across the whole roof.

Firefighters from Durham and Newton Aycliffe also attended.

Mr Brown said: “It could have become a much larger incident if it weren’t for the quick thinking and good decision making by the commander from Bishop Auckland.

“It is a large building in a prominent position beside a main road through Bishop Auckland, had the blaze really caught hold it would have had a big impact on the economy of the town.”

Mr Brown also said the way it was managed meant there was no need for firefighters to risk their lives by going inside the building to battle the blaze.

Mr Brown said the building has been empty for many years and there is evidence of anti-social behaviour being carried out inside.

He said: “There is no doubt whatsoever that this fire was started deliberately, although it does not look like they meant to actually burn the building down.

“There is certainly no electrical supply or other utilities inside that would start a fire.

“It looks like it was started through mischief and anti-social behaviour.”

Durham Police are now investigating the blaze, which was fully extinguished shortly before 1am today (Sunday December 22). Information can be reported to 101.

Comments (4)

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8:13pm Sun 22 Dec 13

rat man says...

"there is evidence of anti- social behaviour being carried out inside"

Instead of employing hordes of over zealous Civil Parking Enforcement Officers in the Town, which will result in even more empty properties in Bish, the County Council should be checking these empty buildings on a more regular basis, to ensure they are being maintained in a secure condition.
Where are these neighbourhood/street wardens, that are supposed to be doing such an important job protecting the interests of our community?
"there is evidence of anti- social behaviour being carried out inside" Instead of employing hordes of over zealous Civil Parking Enforcement Officers in the Town, which will result in even more empty properties in Bish, the County Council should be checking these empty buildings on a more regular basis, to ensure they are being maintained in a secure condition. Where are these neighbourhood/street wardens, that are supposed to be doing such an important job protecting the interests of our community? rat man

4:35am Mon 23 Dec 13

Jumboringbinder says...

It is well past the point where the County Council should be taking positive steps to properly preserve these buidings. Lack os security measures will only accelerate their deterioration.
It is well past the point where the County Council should be taking positive steps to properly preserve these buidings. Lack os security measures will only accelerate their deterioration. Jumboringbinder

8:32am Mon 23 Dec 13

bishopman says...

As soon as the County Council is mentioned in any report on comes the ant-council brigade to make a comment!

The building actually belongs to the Church - it is the former St Anne's Primary school and was rented to the County Council!

The sign on the wall next at the entrance states it's the St Anne's Community Centre so last use before it closed was actually by the Church.
As soon as the County Council is mentioned in any report on comes the ant-council brigade to make a comment! The building actually belongs to the Church - it is the former St Anne's Primary school and was rented to the County Council! The sign on the wall next at the entrance states it's the St Anne's Community Centre so last use before it closed was actually by the Church. bishopman

12:09pm Mon 23 Dec 13

bishop1 says...

just another old building to add to the list that have been torched in the last few years .
hopefully it can be saved but I somehow doubt it , it will end up in disrepair & become an eyesore , much like the laurel building , or bedford lodge .
just another old building to add to the list that have been torched in the last few years . hopefully it can be saved but I somehow doubt it , it will end up in disrepair & become an eyesore , much like the laurel building , or bedford lodge . bishop1

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