The fire that ripped through Galston High School's library on Monday was so intense it obliterated photocopiers, servers and kids' lockers.
"The kids' lockers looked like they were vaporised," principal Jillian Tourlas said.
The fire also destroyed 40 years of school memorabilia, stored in about 20 boxes in the library, as well as four memorial trophies, among them one that commemorates former student Vanessa Hosen who was murdered in 1990.
"It was a trophy for inspirational women in sport," deputy principal Lisa Pieper said.
"There was also a framed poem in the library that students had written for her."
She said "by fluke" the Luke Bradley memorial soccer trophy, commemorating a student, 16, who died from heart complications, was in the PE room when the fire started, but his memorial plaque was in the library with nearly 50 laptops.
Ms Tourlas said the repair bill for the building, and to replace its contents, is estimated at nearly $5 million — that's not counting the personal teaching resources her seven library staff lost in the blaze.
"It's fairly difficult circumstances at the moment," she said.
VIDEO: Click here for previous coverage and a video interview with principal Tourlas.
Students had to stay home on Monday and Tuesday because the school had no water, gas or electricity.
Emergency services were alerted to the fire by neighbours at about 1am Monday.
At first it was treated as suspicious because the building's front doors appeared to have been forced, but Detective Inspector Neil Higgins of Ku-ring-gai police said it was now believed that the frame supporting the door had melted.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos of the razed library.
The Department of Education and Communities erected a safety fence around the library in time for students' return yesterday (years 10 to 12) and today (years 7 to 9) and will install a temporary, portable library in about three weeks. The school also needs a new sick bay.
But crime scene investigators had yet to leave the scene yesterday.
"We couldn't make the building safe for our crime scene examiners to enter," Detective Inspector Higgins said.
Dural and District Historical Society has been contacted to help replace historic items in time for the school's 40th anniversary celebration in October.
‘‘There were also a lot of the old framed photos — they’re probably a hundred years old — that had been hanging in the Waddell Cottage,’’ Ms Pieper said with reference to the contents of the historic sandstone property, built next door in the 1860s.
■ To donate memorabilia: http://www.facebook.com/GHS40
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