Pupils at Millais School in Horsham and their relatives have spoken of the ‘scary’ blaze at the school this afternoon (Thursday March 20).
Many of the girls at the school were in tears after the fire broke out in a block of toilets at about 3pm.
Lottie Collins, 11, said: “My friends were in tears. The rest of my class were trying to calm them down because they were in hysterics.
“One of my friends had a sister and she didn’t know where she was.
“There was genuine concern throughout the school, we didn’t know what was going on.”
More than 30 firefighters were called to the school in Depot Road, while police cordoned off a large area outside the school.
Lottie (pictured left) said: “There was this really thick black smoke coming out, then we saw the flickers of orange, then the flames were above the building for about a minute.
“We thought it was a drill, but then we saw the black smoke.
“We have done quite a lot of drills but I never expected it to actually happen.”
Sarah Parrott, whose daughter Chloe attends Millais, wanted to surprise her daughter by meeting her at the end of the school day.
She took a group of six frightened girls back to her nearby home to look after them - the pupils could not contact their families as their mobile phones had been left in bags inside the school.
Sarah said: “When they were all sitting down in the playground it looked like a fire drill until I saw the massive smoke and flames, and then it was ‘uh oh, my little girl is in there’.
“They all came out trembling and crying and very, very upset - there were a lot of crying girls.
“It hit home when I saw them all crying and how shocked they were.
“Thinking of your child being in a burning building is not very nice.”
Chloe, 12, added: “We could see smoke in the corridors.
“I just wanted to go home, it was really bad. All I could do was cry.
“It was a relief to have my friends back because it made me fell reassured that everyone was okay.”