Fire video : youths seen recording school blaze

A FIRE that destroyed parts of an Mt Waverley primary school may have been caught on camera, with suspicions it could end up on the internet.

Fire damaged five classrooms and the administration area at Sussex Heights Primary School at about 5 am on July 12.

Valuable educational equipment, including new computers, was damaged.

Glen Waverley police said a group of young men was seen recording the incident on a video camera and it “may end up on YouTube”.

The fire began in some wheelie bins with one lit bin thrown through a classroom window.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mick Glowaski said police were investigating links between recent wheelie bin fires in the area and the school fire.

“We have to prevent and nip this behavior in the bud. Although it’s wanton, senseless damage, it’s also dangerous – people could have been killed or injured.

“It’s not something we as a community should tolerate. From our perspective, it’s straight out criminal damage and we’ll deal with offenders as we find them with the full weight of the law. There will be zero tolerance.”

Principal Michael Cormick said preps and grade 5 and 6 pupils lost everything.

“The first day back was very hard. It’s been very upsetting for the kids. We’re talking about preps that have lost everything – all their school possessions are gone.”

He was deeply saddened by the estimated $2 million damage. “Deep down inside I hope that it was more of a reckless act than a malicious act.”

Mr. Cormick was overwhelmed by the community response. “Essex Height’s Mount Waverley has accommodated our school on short notice.”

A spokesman for the Education Department said pupils, staff, and parents had shown tremendous strength in supporting the school.