POLICE are looking for arsonists who torched an outdoor library at a primary school.

Fire destroyed the £3,000 wooden summerhouse structure at Consett Junior School, leaving pupils and teachers devastated.

The school’s pet guinea pigs are usually kept there, but fortunately they are being looked after by children and were not injured.

Deputy headteacher Rebecca Waters said: “When I first saw it, I was very saddened, but now I am also fearful for the effect it has had on our pupils.

“Now we have got it clear up, and we have got children in school so they will have seen it.

“It is quite a scary sight for them.

“It is something they have used and gone into.

“When you are going into your school and seeing that it is not fair on them. It is awful.”

The Northern Echo:

The charred remains

The school has previously been targeted by intruders and it now looking to step up security measures.

Miss Waters added: “It is not the first time we have had problems. We had all of the windows put out last summer so we have just those replaced.

“They have also tried to break into the school but alarms have gone off. Now we are looking to install some CCTV and some security lights. It is becoming a real problem now.”

The school had been about to stock the summerhouse with £1,000 worth of books after winning £4,000 funding for the project from the Tesco blue button charity scheme.

The school remains open for the children of key workers and the alarm was raised at around teatime on Thursday, shortly after staff had left for the day.

A County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Reports of a fire in the grounds of Consett Junior School came into our control room at 5pm and a crew from Consett were quickly on the scene and extinguished the fire which was in a wooden structure, just before 6pm.

“An investigation into the cause of the fire has been launched.”

The fire service is working with Durham Constabulary, which is treating the case as a suspected arson.

A police spokesperson said: “Police were called to reports of a fire in Consett at around 5.30pm on June 4.

“It is believed the suspect(s) set fire to the schools timber summerhouse and made off prior to the arrival of our colleagues at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue service. Enquires are ongoing.”

Anyone with information is asked to call officers on 101 quoting incident number 315 of June 4.

The clean-up operation is too big for the school’s caretaker and Durham County Council is sending a team in to make the area safe.

The Northern Echo:

How it looked before the attack

Miss Waters added: “It was a really thoughtless attack.

“It was a lovely place for the children to go.

“You just think, why? For what reason?”

Kyla Clark has started an online fundraising campaign to replace the library, which has already reached the £3,000 goal.

To support the campaign click here