Published: 14:50, 14 September 2020
| Updated: 14:51, 14 September 2020
Thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused to storage units after two primary schools were targeted.
Smoke could be seen billowing from the grounds of South Avenue Primary School in Sittingbourne at about 4pm last Sunday.
Two fire engines were sent and crews had to use breathing apparatus and hoses to put out the flames.
A Kent Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said no-one was hurt and the fire is believed to have started in two outside bins, which then spread to two storage containers. They left at about 5.40pm.
Meanwhile, Sunny Bank Primary School in Murston, near Sittingbourne , was also subject to a blaze.
One fire engine was sent to the second blaze at about 5.05pm after it started in the school playground.
The flames were out by the time crews had arrived. Again, no-one was hurt and a spokesman confirmed suspicions it was started deliberately.
Both schools were able to reopen after the first pupils were welcomed back to classes at the start of the month.
Police revealed they are treating the blaze at South Avenue Primary School as ‘suspicious’.
Teachers have started to count the cost of the damage caused at the sites.
South Avenue Primary School’s acting head, Tracy Cadwallader, said the two storage containers had Christmas decorations – including 14 trees – and PE equipment in it.
Desks taken away to allow for social distancing were also being stored there.
“We’re talking about more than £7,000 to £10,000 worth of stock which was damaged just in one container,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of PE equipment we’re not sure we can use now including two brand new netball posts which we bought for £120 each.
“It’s a shame, if it was started deliberately, these people felt the need to do it on school premises.
“We’ve come back after lockdown and the summer holiday so the stuff we’ve lost would’ve been used to give children a sense of normality later in the year but we can’t even have that now.”
Sunny Bank’s head, Darren Waters, said the damage at his school is likely to run to “several hundred pounds”.
“It was our early years area which was targeted and the foam building blocks and part of the AstroTurf needs to be replaced,” said Mr Waters.
“We’re lucky that we’ve got alert members of the community who saw the smoke and alerted a member of staff who lives nearby.
“One fire was started in a bin attached to a wall and the other was a base of our shed.
“It’s disappointing the people who did this felt the need to carry it out. If they wanted to come in to the school and look around at the positive environment we’re trying to create for our future children then perhaps they would be less likely to do this again in the future.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police.
A spokesman said: “We were called at around 4.30pm on Sunday, September 6, regarding two fires at a school in South Avenue, Sittingbourne. Officers attended the scene along with Kent Fire and Rescue Service crews who extinguished the fires.
“The cause of the fires is being treated as suspicious.”
Police are also looking into reports that wooden fence poles were set alight in a field off Church Road, Murston, at about 6.45pm the day before.
They were put out by firefighters but officers have launched an investigation into the minor damage left by the flames.
A police spokesman would not be drawn on whether the call was linked to the school fires but said officers “will always keep an open mind” when looking into similar events.
Anyone with information that could help officers should call 01795 419119 quoting 46/159385/20 for the school blaze and 46/158789/20 for the fence fire.