Xavier Catholic College’s Richard Yaxley surveys the damage to an excavator destroyed by fire.
Xavier Catholic College’s Richard Yaxley surveys the damage to an excavator destroyed by fire. Alistair Brightman

Arson suspected in school fire

A $20,000 EXCAVATOR has been destroyed by fire in what is believed to have been an arson attack at Xavier Catholic College.

Hervey Bay firefighters were called to the school about midnight Sunday and arrived to find the earthmoving equipment well alight, with flames blazing high into the night sky.

The excavator was in a car park at the Pialba-Burrum Heads Road entrance to the school, next to a fenced building site where a new language centre is being built.

A second excavator parked next to it was not damaged.

Aside from the machinery, several outdoor chairs, “lost property” clothing and shade-cloth fencing at the school were also destroyed by fire but firefighters were not aware of that until yesterday morning when they returned to the scene.

Dave Crisp, Hervey Bay firefighters’ acting station officer, said the excavator blaze was extinguished and the crews also attended to a “fairly major” diesel leak coming from the damaged vehicle.

It is understood police attended yesterday morning, where they dusted for fingerprints and seized a lighter.

Construction manager Lyle Ellis said he understood the machine to be insured but said it was expected to cost the owner more than double its worth to have it replaced.

Xavier’s senior school director, Richard Yaxley, described the incident as disappointing.

“We’ve had very little in the way of vandalism; that’s what makes this all the more disappointing,” he said.

“Fortunately they didn’t get inside the staff room or anything because that could have been mayhem.”

Mr Yaxley said all the school’s buildings were alarmed.

The new language centre is being built through the Federal Government’s school stimulus package scheme.



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