Firefighters Save School

Principal Deidre Young thanks Beaudesert firefighters Andy Rose, Chris Thompson, Matthew Harris, Steve Ducat (also the school groundskeeper) and Mitch Rogers and and Steve's son, year 11 student Alex Ducat (second from right)

Beaudesert’s McAuley College is praising local firefighters, including their own groundsman and his family, for saving the school from complete devastation in an alleged arson.

Students were able to return to school the day after the fire, which police say was deliberately lit in the early hours of Sunday 8 May and caused significant damage.

Police charged a 42-year-old Beaudesert man with arson on 9 May. His case was mentioned in Beenleigh Magistrates Court that same day and he was remanded in custody at time of print, to face court again on 17 May.


McAuley Rises After Fire

Spirits remain strong at McAuley College after a suspicious fire at the school on 8 May rocked the community of Beaudesert.

Thanks to the swift work of about 30 emergency services personnel, school resumed on Monday 9 May, the day after the Mother’s Day blaze, as police made quick work of charging a 42-year-old Beaudesert man with arson.

As the smell of smoke lingered at the cordoned-off scene of the alleged crime, the school breathed a sigh of relief that more wasn’t lost.

The fire at McAuley College. Photo: Rachelle Gray.

In testament to the tight-knit community that is Beaudesert the Ducats – a local firefighting family with connections to the school – were able to help emergency services get in quick.

“Our groundsman Steve Ducat, who is also a fireman, lives nearby. The family heard the explosions, and Steve’s wife Judy and son Alex helped first responders by assisting with grabbing keys and removing bollards to allow emergency services to drive into the school,” said Principal Deidre Young.

“Alex, one of our Year 11 students, was able to advise emergency services about the nature of the buildings, including that one of them was a science block and the caution about gasses present. I’m very proud of him – he did a great job. Emergency responders were able to stop the fire spreading to other areas of the school. They both really saved the day, and McAuley College.”

While the full extent of the damage was still being assessed, Mrs Young said because of the quick response, the school was likely to be able to save some learning spaces.

“Our specialty classrooms including hospitality, visual art and information technology and design aren’t operational at the moment – however we’re hoping several of them will be able to be saved,” she said.

“As a community, we are grateful no one was hurt, and lives were not lost. We can replace the material things we have lost. We are hopeful about the future. Our students have been amazing and just really rallied around, despite the inconveniences. They’ve taken it in their stride and returned to learning as usual.”

Beaudesert Officer in Charge, Senior Sergeant Ken Murray described the alleged arson, which was caught on CCTV, as a ‘senseless act of destruction’. He said, while there did not appear to be any direct intent to harm the school, police had increased their patrols of schools and government buildings as a result of the suspicious fire.

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