Sunday, October 27

Arson on Rarotonga – schools burn

Rarotonga is still reeling after two schools were targeted by arsonists over the weekend of 19-20 October 2013.
In the early hours of Sunday morning the west wing block at Nukutere College went up in flames.
Classrooms, a science lab and the school canteen were destroyed in a huge blaze that started around 1am.
The same block burned to the ground in 2006.
On Sunday afternoon at about 4pm Avatea Primary School was set alight and the fire quickly spread to engulf an entire block containing six classrooms and the school library.
Both fires were started at times when planes were due at the airport so Rescue Fire Service was unable to attend immediately. Engines and volunteers from Puaikura fought the fires until Crash/Fire units arrived.
The two schools were closed on Monday while the sites were investigated and made safe,
New Zealand fire investigator Peter Wilding arrived on Rarotonga on Tuesday to help local authorities find the cause of the fires and confirmed what everyone suspected – that the fires were started by arsonists.
Police say they have about a dozen suspects who are under investigation.
Students were all back at school later in the week.  Nukutere was able to make room in existing classrooms while Nikao Primary School offered spare rooms to their sister school.
The government has pledged that both school blocks will be rebuilt by the time school starts in 2014.
Check out Cook Islands News for more about the fires here and here.