The children of Rimaskóli school in Reykjavík were outside playing when they first noticed the smoke pouring from a mobile classroom.
The teachers quickly went outside in order to gather the children up into the school hall. The fire started right by the after school club, Tígrisbær.
“I was outside on break and I was playing with my friends and then we saw smoke,” eight-year-old student Stefán Egill Vignisson told RÚV. “At first I thought it was just fog but then I saw flames, everyone ran away from it and then the teachers came and told us to go into the dining hall. I lost my appetite after that.”
Rimaskóli has eight mobile classrooms. Four of them are placed next to each other and two of those burned in the fire yesterday. The fire spread quickly and a huge cloud of smoke was visible across the Grafarvogur neighborhood, and further afield.
“I was a bit shocked, I first saw it on (news website) mbl.is. I rushed straight home, I live right by the school, and hadn’t received any information about collecting the children – but when I came here I saw that they were being picked up so I just rushed on in,” said Vignir Þór Stefánsson, Stefán Egill’s father.
All available firefighters on duty in the capital area were called to the scene, which were nearly 30 people and their fire engines.
“Two were completely ablaze when we arrived and flames had started coming out of the cladding between the windows and the other two. One could see they were completely full of smoke inside and dark, menacing smoke was pouring out,” said Capital Area Fire Brigade shift chief, Árni Oddsson. “We weren’t too worried about it spreading. There are certainly nearby classrooms that we need to keep cool, but there’s nobody about nearby.”
Head teacher at Rimaskóli, Helgi Árnason says that the students were shaken. “Many kids were very scared when something like this happened so quickly and were even more scared when they had come into the room and were asked to go into the sports hall. There was less chaos outside when we brought them into the school.”
The fire brigade praised the school’s reaction to the fire, saying that the children were never put in any danger. Many of them went home, but some came back again when teaching re-started.
Many parents left it to their children to decide whether they wanted to return for afternoon lessons or not, but teaching is back to normal today.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but arson is considered a strong possibility at this stage.