Vandals blamed for nursery fire

ARSON FEARS: Headteacher Barbara Wilkin (left) and caretaker Margaret Gray opposite the fire-damaged play house at Horden Nursery
ARSON FEARS: Headteacher Barbara Wilkin (left) and caretaker Margaret Gray opposite the fire-damaged play house at Horden Nursery
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A BRAVE school caretaker leapt into action after discovering a fire at a children’s nursery which has been blamed on vandals.

Margaret Gray was shocked to find a Wendy house in flames when she arrived at work at Cotsford Nursery School in Horden, yesterday.

She quickly grabbed some buckets of water and put out the fire, but the play house was destroyed.

Mrs Gray, 51, who has been caretaker at the nursery school for 16 years, said: “I came in about 7am and could smell smoke.

“I thought it might be workmen who are in school.

“I came through to the back and the smell got stronger, then when I looked up I saw the play house on fire.

“Flames were coming up from the floor and it burnt all the front of the building as well.

“I got a few buckets of water and chucked it over it.”

Horden councillor Dennis Maddison arrived on the scene soon afterwards and phoned for the fire brigade.

A plastic bottle Coun Maddison believes was used by vandals to take drugs, was found inside the Wendy house.

He said: “I’m just disgusted with this. I live just over the road, but I never heard a thing.

“If the caretaker hadn’t come when she did, the fire could have spread and the school could have caught fire.

“It looks like arson.”

A crew from Peterlee attended the nursery, in Langthorne Avenueand checked the fire was completely out.

Police and fire chiefs are investigating the incident.

A Durham Police spokesman said: “We were informed of a Wendy house at the rear of the infant school that was found smouldering and are investigating.” Witnesses or anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0345 6060365.