UPDATE: 2.50PM Police are offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information on who started the fire which all but destroyed Mt Lawley Primary School.

Arson squad acting Detective-sergeant Adrian Pearsall said the investigation had established there were a number of ignition points.

“We have had a number of witnesses come forward,” he said. “We’d also ask anybody else who has any information at all in regards to the fire, no matter how small they believe that information to be, if they could contact Crime Stoppers and we could evaluate that information.”

“We’re also asking anybody who may have video footage or photographs of the fire to contact Crime Stoppers.”

A child's note handed to him moments before he spoke to hundreds of parents and students about the fire which devastated the school overnight left principal Don Barba temporarily speechless yesterday.

"I had to go shed a tear because it just touched me," he said.

"And then I had another half a dozen from students who brought them up after the meeting."


Many of those who crammed into the emotional meeting to hear about their 100-year-old school's future wept as Mr Barba told them 85 per cent of the buildings had been gutted by the blaze which started just before midnight on Saturday - just months after the school's centenary celebrations.

He said the meeting at the local high school was an important part of the "grieving stage" that teachers, parents and the school's 500 students would have to endure.

"Those people who, like me last night, stood on the grounds and witnessed that our school burnt, it was not only gut-wrenching but it was one of the most emotional things that I've had to experience," he said.

The blaze takes hold. Picture: Karam Grewal

He promised the school would be rebuilt but noted it was people, not buildings, who made a school special.

"We lost a lot of tangible things, we lost a lot of memories that our students will have to grieve over," he said.

"But one thing we didn't lose last night was our community."

Many parents and children who turned out early yesterday to see the damage caused by the fire, which police said was lit deliberately, were shaken by the sight.

Parent Elizabeth Hanjina was in tears as she surveyed the damage with her son Alexander, who is in Year 1.

"It's such a fantastic school and a great community," she said. "I think everyone will be devastated."

Year 7 students Teale, Lori and Claire were upset as they looked at the ruined remains.

Teale, 12, said she had heard sirens and "a massive blow, like an explosion, like what you hear on the movies" from her home nearby.

"It was really bad when I came to school and I thought 'I heard that'," she said. "Especially since it's our centenary year."

Claire said it was a shame she might not be able to finish Year 7 at the school.

Lori said it was sad the school had burnt down but it was a relief no one was hurt.

Education Department officers said it was one of the most destructive school fires in the past decade.

The administration block and most classrooms were gutted, but firefighters saved the contents of the library.

One Year 1 classroom was untouched and a recently opened $2 million wing containing art and music rooms was saved.

Structural engineers said some walls were sound and it was possible that parts of the old building could be saved.

Education Department north metropolitan region executive director Jim Webb assured parents their children would have some- where to go on July 24, when classes resume after the holidays, but could not say where.

The department had spare transportable classrooms, but had to decide where to put them. He said the department would try to keep all year groups on the same site.

Parent Kristal Taylor, who was still wiping away tears after the meeting, said she sent her daughter Krissie, 10, to Mt Lawley because she had loved it so much when she worked there as a teacher.

"It's just so sad because it's our centenary and the heritage buildings have been there such a long time," she said.

Formerly known as Inglewood School, Mt Lawley Primary began in a rented Anglican mission hall in Beaufort Street in April 1912.

Mr Barba said it was devastating that teachers had lost resources built up over years and students had lost books and artwork.

Ten boxes of memorabilia and anecdotes collected for a book about the centenary had also gone up in flames with his office.

Mr Barba ended the meeting by reading out the student's letter which brought tears to his eyes.

"Dear Mr Barba, hope our school gets better soon. Thank you for all the hard work you do, it is a wonderful school and everything will be all right."

Aerial view of the devastation. Picture: Seven News

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