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Devastation As Melbourne Special School Engulfed In Fire

Parents and hundreds of vulnerable children are devastated as a special school in Melbourne’s east engulfs fire.

A suspected arson attack at Heatherwood School on Springvale Rd in Donvale on Saturday afternoon destroyed five classrooms and the canteen.

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The Heatherwood School has about 240 students and teaches children living with mild intellectual disabilities. 

Police believed the building was set on fire from inside, and they are searching for a man seen near the grounds at the time of the fire.

The unknown man is described as Caucasian, 180cm tall with a thin build, dark hair and aged in his 30s.

He was last seen wearing a black hooded top, a black and white paisley bandana covering his face and may have been carrying a black Nike Backpack. 

Annie Basel, who has children at the school, told 7News that the school was their children’s world. 

“These kids sometimes don’t have anything else, and there are no other schools like this,” she said.

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On Sunday, an education department spokesperson said the school would be closed on Tuesday, but classes are expected to resume on Wednesday.

“We know this will come as a shock to students and staff – and arrangements to ensure classes can resume as soon as possible are underway – with support also available to the school community,” the education department spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said Monday is a planned curriculum day with no students in attendance.

“The school will remain closed on Tuesday to ensure the site is safe and there are adequate and appropriate facilities for students.”

Police urged anyone with information, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

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