Fire investigators say last night’s (Wednesday’s) blaze at Long Field Academy in Melton was started deliberately.
Police have now been alerted about the incident, which saw principal Christopher Haggett bravely battle the flames with fire extinguishers.
More than 600 school pupils and nursery children, plus 86 staff, were safely evacuated and Mr Haggett was later told by firefighters his actions saved the school from burning down.
And this afternoon, Scott Smith, the incident commander for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, told the Melton Times: “The investigation revealed that the fire had been started deliberately in the store room by somebody setting fire to paperwork and school work inside a cupboard and the police have been informed.”
Fire crews from Melton and Oakham stations arrived shortly after 3.15pm at the scene to find school principal Mr Haggett had doused most of the flames using extinguishers.
Firefighter Smith said: “On arrival we were told there was a fire in a store room that was now believed out, however the building was smoke-logged and staff were concerned the fire might have spread to the roof void.
“A breathing apparatus crew were deployed under rapid deployment using one hose reel jet and a thermal imaging camera to fully extinguish the fire and ensure no further fire spread.
“The fire damage was limited to the room involved and there was minor smoke damage to adjoining rooms.
“Positive pressure ventilation was carried out to remove all smoke from the building to allow fire investigation to be carried out.”
The incident commander added: “Whilst I cannot condone that members of the public tackle fires I am in no doubt that this fire would have spread significantly prior to our arrival and that we would have had a much larger scale incident if Mr Haggett had not intervened.
“Another major factor that this relatively small incident wasn’t escalated was the quick actions of staff and students evacuating the building and the excellent marshalling of staff to lead the two crews to the exact location of the incident on what is now a large site.”
Mr Haggett earlier told the Melton Times: “I was in my office when the alarms went off and when it was clear it was a fire I just grabbed an extinguisher and ran towards it.
“There were flames and smoke in the room so I did what I could with the fire extinguishers.
“When the fire brigade told me I had saved the school I started crying – I was a bit emotional.”