UPDATE: Pupils sent home after school evacuated amid ‘battery fumes’ alert

Aspire Academy
Aspire Academy

Hundreds of children have been sent home after their school was evacuated earlier this morning.

Aspire Academy, in Blackpool Old Road, was cleared by staff after two batteries in the server room were found to have blown overnight and given off dangerous fumes, a spokesman said.

Aspire site supervisor Kev Beck with four batteries removed from the server room

Aspire site supervisor Kev Beck with four batteries removed from the server room

A commanding officer and crew from Blackpool fire station are at the scene, with firefighters in protective clothing and breathing masks entering the building to assess the situation.

Around 642 pupils at the school, run by the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT), were taken to the sports hall as a precaution while parents were contacted.

Once permission was granted, they were then allowed home. Around 50 remained at around 10.30am, and will be looked after until their parents can be reached.

The all-clear was given at around 11am after the batteries, used to power computer servers if the electricity goes off, were removed. They did not set alight or leak chemicals, the fire service confirmed.

Staff at Aspire, which opened last November on the site of the old Collegiate High School, are now working to replace the batteries, and expect to open as usual on Monday.

John Topping, from FCAT, said the problem was noticed when the school’s IT manager arrived at work at around 7.30am.

He dialled 999 after tracing the strong smell of battery acid to the server room, and the school was later closed on the advice of the fire service.

Staff were sent to Unity Academy, in Warbreck Hill Road, North Shore, to call and send text messages to parents.

Mr Topping said the evacuation went smoothly because detailed plans were in place in case of such an incident, and said: “The support from staff has been incredible, and the children’s behaviour has been exceptional.”

He also thanked Blackpool Sixth Form College next door, which offered the use of its facilities, and Blackpool Council’s Pupil Welfare Services for their help.