“As the rubble quite literally settles and the damp smell of a burnt building slowly, very slowly, starts to fade, a very real picture remains – a picture of gutted classrooms, corridors covered with remnants of what was, and an ‘open-air’ look no one had pre-planned.”
These are words of a heartfelt message expressed in a letter from one of the teachers at Wynberg Boys’ High School, Peter Morison, after a fire that gutted classrooms at the school on Thursday 4 August.
Classes had to be suspended for the last part of last week and they are expected to resume today (Wednesday) as no-one was supposed to come close to the damaged areas.
Four classrooms were destroyed by the fire and four other classrooms had structural damage due to water used to fight the blaze and went in.
“The four English classrooms were filled with books, memorabilia, house and tutor photos, posters, flags and many, many great memories. It is very sad that all of those, and many other things, have been lost. The truth is, however, that nothing irreplaceable is gone and we are grateful that there was not more damage, that no-one was hurt, and that the police and fire departments responded as brilliantly as they did. In times of crisis, again, we see the very best in people,” he says.
“The response from parents, our neighbouring schools, old boys and our current lads has been truly, although not unexpectedly, humbling. The outpouring of compassion and understanding, as well as offers of help and support, have poured in throughout the day. Thank you,” says Murison.
In a statement posted on their website, the principal, Jan de Waal, confirms the incident.
“On Thursday 4 August in the early hours of the morning, a fire broke out in one of the academic blocks of Wynberg Boys’ High School. The fire was extinguished and fortunately there were no injuries,” he says in the statement.
“The fire gutted four classrooms and an office and a further four classrooms below received extensive water damage. The cause of the fire is being investigated...
“We wish to thank the fire department, police and traffic services for their assistance,” he concluded.
Fire and Rescue spokesperson Theo Layne confirms the incident.
“The City’s Fire and Rescue Service responded to Wynberg Boys’ High School, Herschel Walk, Wynberg, at 01:00 (on 4 August). The fire occurred in one of the academic wings of the school, on the second and third floor. The fire severely damaged the building and furniture.
“The probable cause of the fire is an electrical short circuit. No injuries were reported.
“The school was unoccupied at the time of the fire,” he says.