Former schools to be bulldozed after being hit by fires

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TWO former schools in Blyth are set to be demolished after being left badly damaged by suspected arson attacks.

Newsham First School and Wensleydale Middle School were both set alight last week within 48 hours of each other, causing so much damage that they will have to be knocked down.

Police suspect the two fires were started deliberately and have not ruled out the same culprits being responsible for both blazes.

The first fire took place on Saturday, December 17, at Newsham First School in Warwick Street, just after 8.30pm.

Six fire engines were sent out from West Hartford fire station at Cramlington to tackle the blaze.

Police and firefighters are investigating the blaze.

Just two days later, fire ripped through the old Wensleydale Middle School in Dent Street.

Firefighters were called out at 10.40pm on Tuesday, December 21, and worked through the night to bring the blaze under control.

Again, six fire engines were dispatched to deal with the blaze, along with an aerial fire appliance.

This was the second fire at the old Wensleydale Middle School this year.

Both schools had been standing empty since a new school for Newsham was built in 2009 and Wensleydale Middle’s pupils moved over to the new Bede Academy.

The site of the nursery block at Newsham First School had been earmarked for council housing by Northumberland County Council, and the local authority had also earmarked part of the Wensleydale Middle site for a residential development.

Three teenagers – two of them aged 17 and the other 18 – were arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the second fire.

A police spokesperson said: “Three men arrested for the fire at Wensleydale Middle School in Blyth have been released on bail.

“We are not ruling out the two incidents being linked.”