Three private students who snuck off from a sleepover are thought to have started a fire that gutted a school.
Three private students who snuck off from a sleepover are thought to have started a fire that gutted a school.

Students who ‘torched’ school backed by principal

The principal of a private school attended by three teens implicated in the Sandringham Primary School fire has told how the boys snuck out during sleepover and met friends before lighting a fire on the school roof.

The fire, which ripped through a main building, has meant that students had to be moved to Sandringham Secondary College and Sandringham East Primary School.

The private school head has written to staff, outlining the alleged actions of the trio and asking staff to wrap their arms around the boys. In it the principal gives an insight into how the fire started.

"I share this with you with the intention of reducing speculation and hearsay and thereby assisting us all to maintain a healthier environment," the principal said.

The gutted remains of a main building at Sandringham Primary School. Picture: Sarah Matray
The gutted remains of a main building at Sandringham Primary School. Picture: Sarah Matray

The Herald Sun has not named the school or the students who are the subject of an investigation by the Moorabbin Crime Investigation Unit.

The principal said in the early hours of Saturday morning the boys slipped out from a house where they were having a sleepover to meet three girls from another school.

"After walking around and sharing each other's company they made their way to Sandringham PS where they decided to climb up on the roof and light a fire that they could sit around, which they did," the principal said.

"It was, as some will remark, a very hot night so the purpose of the fire was more about connecting.

"They thought because the roof was tiled and the gutters were metal that a small fire would not be an issue.

On the Friday Melbourne's temperature topped 43 degrees.

The principal went on to say that they thought they had stamped the fire out and went on to walk to the beach.

Firefighters battling the blaze at the primary school. Picture: Supplied
Firefighters battling the blaze at the primary school. Picture: Supplied

"They walked to the beach and some time later they became aware that there was a fire in the area," the principal recounted.

"They walked back to the school to find flames and the fire brigade attending to the incident."

The principal said the teens told their parents what had happened and went to police.

"The reality is that these three teens, and their siblings are feeling increasingly distraught as the reality of their actions becomes clear," the principal said.

The principal said he had shared the story with the year level.

"I shared with them that they were a special group and that it was my belief that they would respect that information and better understand the need for them to (metaphorically) embrace their peers on their return tomorrow and help them to create the normality that existed prior to this devastating incident," the principal said.

 

MFB Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tim Landells speaks to parents and students after the blaze. Picture: Sarah Matray
MFB Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tim Landells speaks to parents and students after the blaze. Picture: Sarah Matray

"Without overdoing it, I am sure they, like all of us, will seek to support these young men to develop much needed wisdom and a deeper appreciation of they we need to think before one acts."

The principal said, most importantly, the teens might discover the importance of forgiveness and understanding.

"I have no doubt that their actions were not intentional." the principal said.

Bayside City Council has had to make changes to traffic to accommodate additional traffic.

Holloway Road will be temporarily opened up to one way through traffic to George St during school periods from 8am to 9.30am and 2.30pm and 4pm.

A drop off zone and parent parking has been established on the oval at Sandringham Secondary College.

The council has employed more crossing supervisors for Bluff, Bay and Holloway roads and traffic controllers on Holloway Road.

A new 5 minute parking zone has been established on Holloway Rd adjacent to the secondary school oval.

claire.heaney@news.com.au


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