Up to sixty students as well as a school chaplain and his family have been left homeless after a fire destroyed a dormitory and the adjoining staff house at the Martyrs Memorial School in the Oro Province.
The fire started in the staff house at about 3pm just as students were about to begin their afternoon activities.
“The eldest daughter of the chaplain was asleep in the house and had to be rescued by students,” Martyrs School Principal, Jesse Jim told EMTV.
The John Duffill dormitory is more than 60-years-old. It was built in the 1950s by missionary builders and named after an Australian missionary killed by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War Two.
By 4pm, the rest of the wooden building could not be saved as the fire reached the upper level of the dormitory.
“By then, I told students to move their things out and to stop their attempts to save the building. It was too difficult to save the dormitory.”
Martyrs Memorial School was built in memory of Anglican missionaries killed in World War Two. Each of the dormitories are named after the missionaries. The school recently celebrated seventy years of its existence and has been in desperate need of rehabilitation.
Former students have begun discussions to raise funds to assist students and the chaplain’s family.