A LARGE fire caused extensive damage to a former school overnight.

Dozens of firefighters tackled the blaze which broke out at the former Greenland Community Primary School in School Terrace, South Moor, Stanley, at about 7pm on Saturday.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service group manager Rob Cherrie said: "We were called to a fire at derelict school in School Terrace, South Moor.

"We were informed the fire had started inside the former infants' school. It is a single storey building, but has a roof void and the fire had spread into the beams and went all along the building.

"There were five appliances, the aerial ladder platform and the incident command support unit in attendance, as well as the North East Ambulance Service's Hart team and police."

He added: "We didn't want to commit anybody to go inside the building as it was at risk of collapse, so we tackled the fire from above.

"We had resources on the scene until 3am this morning. The school was secured by the police and we will be going back today."

The Northern Echo: The fire in Stanley Picture courtesy of Scott DoddsThe fire in Stanley Picture courtesy of Scott Dodds

Mr Cherrie praised efforts of the firefighter who had prevented the fire from spreading to the rest of the complex.

He said: "The team did a fantastic job preventing the fire from spreading to the remainder of the school. The aerial ladder platform played a big part getting to it."

Firefighters will be meeting the building control later today, to check on the stability of the structure.

Durham Police and the fire brigade have mounted a joint investigation to establish the cause of the fire.