A KILN may have started the fire that devastated a third of the building at York High School.

The initial conclusions of a fire brigade investigation into how a fire started at the secondary school in Acomb on October 3 show it started in a room close to an art room which contained a kiln that was in use during the night on a programmed cycle.

The Press reported the day after the fire about rumours locally that a malfunctioning kiln might have been to blame, but it was initially dismissed by the fire service as speculation.

In an initial report investigators said a number of factors contributed to the severe damage to the school, for example, a void between the ceiling and the roof facilitated fire spread over the top of internal walls.

Also the fire alarm system, which met current guidance, did not include automatic detection in the rooms on the upper floor.

Such detection would have raised the alarm much earlier, and the Fire Service may have been able to limit the subsequent damage.

The report states: “The Fire Service investigators believe that there are lessons to be learned from the fire at the school that will be included within the final report. “It is likely to include a recommendation for the adoption of the recently published Government guidance concerning the installation of fire sprinklers in new and refurbished schools.”

Yesterday, York High’s 896 pupils were back in class for the first time since the fire devastated their school, in Dijon Avenue.

Head teacher David Ellis said he was pleased with the way pupils settled in to their new surroundings at Burnholme Community College, Manor CE School and Westfield primary school.

Year 7 Pupils were accommodated in six temporary portable buildings at Westfield Primary School, housing some 183 pupils. Meanwhile, some 560 pupils from Years 9 to 11 started back at Manor CE School with 158 at Burnholme Community College. Mr Ellis said: “I think the pupils’ reaction was one of confusion really, as they were not familiar with the new school buildings, and they were a bit uneasy I guess on the first day back. On the whole though, they enjoyed being back at school and the transport arrangements to get pupils to and from the different sites worked well.