Sunday 21 April 2019

Kilmacanogue school evacuated as fire spills onto property

Gorse smoking at the boundary fence of Kilmacanogue NS on Thursday
Gorse smoking at the boundary fence of Kilmacanogue NS on Thursday
Principal Niamh Murray

Kilmacanogue National School was evacuated last Thursday afternoon as high flames crossed fencing on to school land.

Principal Niamh Murray said that there had been a fire early that morning in the gorse area beyond the fence of the school, which had been dealt with.

'When the kids arrived, there was no issue,' she said. 'We could see pockets of smoke in the distance and we were aware that certainly fire brigades were under pressure.'

The children went outside to do some activities.

'The sun was very hot. I could see billowing smoke near enough to the fence. It was close but not terribly smoky,' she said. 'I decided to bring them in to have a rest and get some water anyway, as it was getting very hot.'

The school's GAA Tony Lawlor cup final, part of the sports programme, was due to take place that afternoon.

'I had a look out and smoke was billowing up the field,' said Niamh. 'The fire itself had come in two feet past the fence. Flames had gone up one of the posts. Of course, at that stage there was no way they would be going out to finish the cup.'

She spoke to the teachers and assessed the situation as smoke swept across the grounds. Some of the younger pupils were getting upset, and some were from houses also quite near to the rising fire.

Around midday, Ms Murray took the decision to remove everyone from the school. They went to the church and sat outdoors in the shade of the trees, singing songs, and some of them doing the floss dance!

The principal ensured that nobody was left in the building, contacted the fire brigade, and texted parents to let them know the that children were safe and that could be collected straight away or after school time.

'The fire brigade did a great job and were so nice to everyone,' said Ms Murray. She added that the children had behaved extremely well throughout the incident. 'Their parents should be very proud of them,' she said.

Wicklow People