Three teenagers arrested on suspicion of arson have been released under investigation after a fire at Oaklands College in St Albans, police confirmed.

A large section of cladding and some internal areas of the college's Discovery Centre were alight when firefighters arrived on the scene, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said.

Firefighters attended with 17 engines after receiving a call 12.18pm on Friday (June 7) and spent hours tackling the huge fire. The fire service said the fire was completely put out by 8.07pm.

Two girls, aged 16 and 17, and a 17-year old boy were arrested on the same day. They have now been released under investigation as police continue their enquiries.

Students were evacuated from the building at the time and there were no injuries.

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"Limited damage"

Zoe Hancock, principal at Oaklands College, said there was "limited damage to the building" and some water damage to the sports hall.

She said: “We can confirm that the fire and police services have handed the Discovery Centre building back to us after the fire on Friday. The building is being assessed this morning by our insurance company to determine the damage and the next steps.

"The fire services have confirmed that the fire compartmentation was effective and that there is limited damage to the building. We are aware though that due to water damage our Sports Halls will require a new floor.

"We are at present making plans for student lessons that have been affected until the end of term and most importantly that all exams go ahead as planned.

"On behalf of the college I would like to thank the fire and police teams who have helped and supported us throughout this incident.”

"Fire spreading rapidly up the cladding"

Director of community protection and chief fire officer for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue, Darryl Keen said: “When the crews initially arrived the fire was spreading rapidly up the cladding and onto the roof and they clearly had to work very quickly to tackle it and prevent it from spreading. Although there is significant damage, a large proportion of the building has been saved and that can only be down to the expert work carried out by the operation crews.

“The first crews to arrive worked really hard and by mobilising a significant number resources at an early stage the damage was contained and we hope that this will enable the building to be reinstated quickly.”

A spokesman for the college clarified that although there had been a lot of external damage with the cladding, the internal damage was limited. She said a section of the roof and the sports hall floor will need to be replaced.

Classes which had been held at the building and exams which had been due to take place at the sports hall have now been relocated.

Anyone with information should contact Hertfordshire Constabulary on the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference 41/51297/19.