Investigation uncovers cause of fire at primary school

Firefighters working at the school
Firefighters working at the school

An investigation has revealed that faulty solar panels caused a large blaze at a borough school.


Fire crews were called to Westleigh Methodist Primary School, in Westleigh, when the fire broke out on Sunday morning.

Read more: Large blaze at primary school

They spent more than 10 hours at the Westleigh Lane school and it is currently closed due to the damage.

Greater Manchester Fire And Rescue Service (GMFRS) launched an investigation to establish the cause of the blaze.

They discovered it started in a bank of electric solar panels embedded onto the roof of one of the buildings at the school.

There is thought to have been an electrical fault with the panels, but investigators have not been able to establish exactly why it happened due to the fire damage.

Station manager Chris Roberts said: “A GMFRS fire investigation officer examined the fire burn patterns and determined that the source of the fire was at roof level. The fire started on the right-hand side of the roof, where a number of solar panels were in place – causing the fire to spread resulting the whole roof being ablaze. The pattern of the fire burn would also conclude that the fire’s origin was in the vicinity of the solar panels.

“Examination on the inside of the main hall found charring on the top of the wooden beams which were situated under the roof of the building which would only occur if the fire was above the beam. Due to the intense heat of the fire, wiring from the panels were burnt away so we are unable to determine if or why an electrical fault occurred.

“An eyewitness account that was given to the emergency services when the fire first started stated that they saw approximately four solar panels on the roof of the school on fire. These panels were located on the right-hand side of the roof area. This account also supports the outcome of our investigation in determining the area of origin where the fire started and in identifying any materials that could possible cause a fire to start .”