Richard Bryan and Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writers
The Mount St Joseph Preparatory School, one of Manchester's oldest early childhood institutions, lost a big chunk of its original structure in a fire of unknown origin last evening.
The raging fire was seen coming from the largely wooden composition of the buildings at the front of the school around 5 p.m.
Despite the efforts of fire fighters and passersby, the library, computer room, two kindergarten classrooms, and the nearby staff quarters were razed.
The scene was quickly flooded by neighbours, teachers and parents who volunteered to remove items from adjoining concrete classrooms and offices as the fire threatened to spread.
Firemen had to rescue three of the six people who resided in the staff quarters.
Sister Susan Fraser, chairman of the school board, told reporters that the occupants of the staff quarters lost everything in the fire.
She also said the school will not be opened for classes tomorrow.
According to Julian Davis Buckle, deputy superintendent of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the fire department received a call at 5:10 p.m that the school was ablaze and one unit from the Mandeville Fire Department responded.
There were seven water trucks on location supplying water as well as a fire unit from Clarendon and three private fire trucks from Windalco and Jamalco.
The estimated damage has not yet been ascertained.
The Mount St Joseph Preparatory School, located on Manchester Road, is about one kilometre from the Mandeville town centre and has been in operation since 1933.
It is part of a ministry funded by the Sisters of Mercy of the Catholic diocese.