Macquarie Boys Technology High School hall destroyed by fire

The disused hall of the abandoned Macquarie Boys Technology High School has been destroyed by fire. 

Neglected: The Sun exclusively reported on the state of the former Macquarie Boys High School site several times last year. The school hall/gymnasium was destroyed by fire on Sunday.

Neglected: The Sun exclusively reported on the state of the former Macquarie Boys High School site several times last year. The school hall/gymnasium was destroyed by fire on Sunday.

Emergency services were called to the corner of Kissing Point Road and James Ruse Drive at around 12.40am on Sunday after reports of a fire.

“When firefighters arrived, smoke and flames were coming from an abandoned building,” a Fire and Rescue NSW spokeswoman told the Sun.

“We had 19 crews on site at the height of the blaze. The fire was under control by 2.12am but took several hours to fully extinguish a few hotspots. Crews remained at the scene until midday to make sure the fire didn’t reignite.”

Firefighters were unable to save the 1500 square metre disused hall/gymnasium.

Investigators are treating the fire as suspicious.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established.

Last year, the Sun exclusively reported on the derelict state of the former school which once took in as many as 800 students.

It closed at the end of 2009 because of major reputation problems and low enrolments.

The Department of Education announced plans to sell the site after promises it would be retained.

Promises of a UWS facility called Lachlan Macquarie College specialising in maths and science never came to fruition.

The office of education minister Adrian Piccoli's directed our queries to the Department of Education and Communities.

"The property has been identified as surplus to the department's requirements at this time," a spokesman said last July.

"Plans for the site will be determined as part of the department's planning for new schools in Parramatta. The former Macquarie Boys High School is bound by main arterial roads, including James Ruse Drive and Kissing Point Road. Pedestrian access to the site is difficult and would hinder students walking or riding bikes to school. The site was unsuccessful as a high school and is not considered appropriate for a primary school due to its location."

He added security patrols would ensure the site wasn’t further vandalised.

This week, a spokesman confirmed the property is still owned by the department but is in the process of being disposed of by Property NSW.

“The site is not suitable for a school due to access and site constraints,” he said.

“The Department has decided to sell the site and invest the proceeds into the provision of education infrastructure in the Parramatta / Rydalmere area. It is understood that a crime scene investigation is currently underway in relation to the fire on the site.The department is considering future action in relation to the damaged building, with demolition of the building one of the options under consideration. Designs have been released for the State’s first high-rise school and an adjoining primary school in Parramatta. The new Arthur Phillip High School and Parramatta Public School represent an investment of more than $100 million, with both schools scheduled to open in 2019. They will cater for up to 3000 students. The new primary school at the Old Kings School site in Parramatta is expected to open in 2017 and will cater for up to 1000 students.”

Police urge anyone with information about the fire to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

MORE: http://www.parramattasun.com.au/story/3183175/derelict-former-schools-fate-unclear/