FIREFIGHTERS who dealt with a serious fire a University of Chester academy have been praised for their actions.

More than 50 firefighters from across Cheshire spent several hours tackling the fire at the University of Chester Academy Northwich (UCAN), which was reported at approximately 6am on Sunday (February 25).

The fire caused a substantial amount of damage to the building, however by working closely with the school’s Principal, Cath Green, firefighters were able to salvage vital equipment from the building.

Incident Commander Paul Binyon from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “On arrival at the scene it became apparent that this was a serious fire which had already caused substantial damage to the building.

“We linked in with the school’s principal, Cath Green, as soon as possible and used the Academy’s business continuity plan to identify a number of essential assets within the building.

“From there, we then undertook a targeted plan to salvage those assets wherever possible; these included the school’s IT server along with a large quantity of books and coursework which had been submitted by pupils.”

The school has since reopened for Year 10 and 11 pupils, with work available online for other pupils.

Cath Green, principal of UCAN, said: “I would like to thank all the members of the emergency services who worked tirelessly to tackle the fire at UCAN on Sunday. Their swift response and support has allowed us to recover vital and important assets from the building. I would also like to thank the ongoing support from parents and the community of Northwich”

At its height more than 50 firefighters were in attendance at the incident, using 12 fire engines and two aerial appliances. The final crew left the site at 9.30am on Monday 26 February, over 24 hours after the fire was initially reported.

Paul Binyon added: “The firefighters who attended this incident worked tirelessly to bring this fire under control and as a result of their hard work, dedication and teamwork they were able to protect a large amount of equipment from the building using a variety of salvage techniques.

“Hopefully, this will help to minimise the impact that the incident has on pupils at the school, many of whom are preparing to undertake their GCSEs; one of the most critical times in their educational development.”

The University of Chester Academies Trust has both primary and secondary academies in the North West with the values and ethos of the University of Chester. The link with the university provides a range of opportunities for pupils.

After an investigation into the incident, Cheshire police arrested Philip Day of Saltash Close, Runcorn. He was charged with arson with intent.

He appeared at Chester Magistrates Court on Tuesday and was remanded in custody.

Day will appear at Chester Crown Court on March 27.