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Fire Devastates Preschool Community

Fire Devastates Preschool Community

Parents and staff of the Forfar Nursery and Preschool were devastated on Sunday morning when their Childcare Centre was damaged by fire.

A neighbour raised the alarm around 2 am Sunday 20th January. The fire service was able to extinguish the fire before it spread very far into the building, however, there was extensive smoke damage to the entire premises. The Centre is closed until further notice, disrupting the childcare arrangements of about 80 families.

“We have 47 children attending the Centre each day,” the President and Licensee, Ana Connor, said. “The impact of the fire on day-to-day care arrangements for our families is terrible, especially considering the shortage of childcare spaces within the city and the disruption to it causes to families’ lives and their work places.”

Centre Management and Committee members have been working with the Ministry of Education to locate alternative premises for the Centre to use. Any temporary premises must meet Government early childhood regulations and health and safety requirements in order to gain a licence for the Centre to operate.

“Without appropriate facilities, we cannot offer care to any of our children,” said Ana Connor. “At this stage, we have been unable to locate any suitable premises to accommodate all of the children affected.”

Any Childcare Centres that have places available should contact the Preschool Manager Rebecca Strang at 355-8512, and these details will be passed on to parents. “Parents are able to enrol children at other centres while we are closed and Forfar Preschool will reserve all existing booked places for children when the Centre reopens,” Rebecca Strang said.

The Centre employs over 20 staff members, who are extremely distressed by the fire and the impact it is having on the children. “Our staff have been fantastic. We really appreciate the efforts staff have put in to the initial clean up operation this week,” Ana Connor said. “It has been heartbreaking for them to have to sort through fire and smoke-damaged items to determine what can be salvaged and what must be thrown away. “

A large number of the Centre’s toys and other resources have had to be dumped, as it is not possible to clean up the smoke damage. “While we do have insurance, the cost of the clean up and replacing all these items will not be entirely covered,“ Rebecca Strang said.

Reconstruction of the fire-damaged area would begin as soon as possible. “We won’t have a date for reopening until the builders are onsite and able to advise us on the likely timeframe for completion,” said Ana. “Given the nature of repairs required, it could be up to three months before we are able to reopen the Centre.”

About Forfar Nursery & Preschool:

The Christchurch Public Service Childcare Centre Inc. (trading as the Forfar Nursery and Preschool) was established in 1987 for the children of public servants. The Centre is a non-profit making incorporated society governed by a committee made up of parents and managed by a Centre Manager. The Centre provides high-quality early childhood education to families from many occupations and from across Christchurch and surrounding districts.


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