'Suspicious' blaze shuts down Clonmel school

23 preschoolers stranded

Eamonn Lacey

Reporter:

Eamonn Lacey

'Suspicious' blaze shuts down Clonmel school

Closed until a new premises is found

A fire that Gardai described as “suspicious” has closed down a Clonmel Montessori school leaving twenty three pre-school children stranded.

The fire caused extensive damage to the school at 33 Tivoli Heights, Clonmel on Sunday afternoon.

The twenty three pupils have no school to go to and the three staff working at the school are out of work as a result of the fire.

“The place is absolutely destroyed. There was no way we could open on Monday morning” said the shocked owner Martha O'Shea.

Gardai have launched an investigation into the “suspiciuoius” fire and have appealed for witnesses to come forward to assist them.

The devastated owner of the pre school is desperately searching for temporary accommodation to enable the children to return to school to finish out the term to June 23rd.

“Everybody is devastated, shocked that this could happen to our school” said Ms O'Shea, originally from Cahir and now living in Carrick where she operates another Montessori school.

“Gardai are treating it as suspicious and it is very upsetting to think this could be malicious”, she said.

A neighbour in the estate raised the alarm on Sunday during the Tipperary versus Cork hurling match.

“I arrived on the scene and the fire brigade was already there. There was a lot of damage but once nobody was injured is the main thing” said Ms O'Shea.

The kitchen and reception area in the semi detached house in the estate, were extensively damaged and the two classrooms, one downstairs and one upstairs, were smoke damaged.

“Everybody was very upset and I am looking for a place that I would be able to open on a temporary basis until the end of the school term on June 23rd.

“We will be back once everything is sorted out” said Martha.

She said she found it very upsetting as the house was originally her family home before she set up a business there.

The pre-school owner said the fire caused a lot of upset in the estate as the residents would have sent their children there over the years.

She thanked the residents of the estate for rallying around on Sunday evening to help her .

“They were fantastic, great neighbours. Everybody was so kind and supportive” she said.

Gda. Supt. William Leahy of Clonmel Garda Station said on Monday evening that they believe the cause of the fire was suspicious.

He appealed to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the vicinity of the pre-school at Tivoli Heights to contact Clonmel Garda Station at (052) 6177640.

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