UPDATE: Major fire at secondary school in Selsey now under control
More than 50 firefighters battled a serious blaze which broke out at a school today.
Witnesses described 40ft flames and clouds of smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the air from The Academy in Selsey, West Sussex, this morning.
Crews from West Sussex Fire and Rescue service and Hampshire Fire and Rescue attended the fire which began just before 8am.
People in the area said they heard ‘loud explosions’ before it took hold.
Witness Michael Varney, 56, said: ‘I have never been this close to something so horrendous. There were about 30ft or 40ft flames with black smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the air.’
A spokeswoman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue said the fire was under control by 4pm and the service had sent crews from Havant, Southsea, Emsworth and Gosport to assist.
Formerly known as the Manhood Community College, The Academy in Selsey caters for up to 750 pupils in years 7 to 11.
West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: ‘This was an extensive fire and we know that the level of damage has yet to be properly assessed, although we anticipate it will be severe.
‘We will be working with the headteacher to support pupils, parents and staff. Our top priority will be ensuring that pupils and parents know where they’ll be based from the start of the new school term.’
The cause is not yet known.