STUDENTS of Sigatoka Methodist Primary School arrived at school yesterday horrified to find the 95-year-old building partly damaged by fire.
Teachers found most of the children in tears, overcome by the size of the destruction caused by a fire on Sunday night.
Headteacher Sovita Nagatagata said a multi-purpose 13 classroom hall and the teachers' quarters were destroyed in the fire where damage is estimated to be around $500,000.
He said 11 classrooms were saved by firefighters during a six-hour battle with raging flames.
"This is one of the worst disasters to ever happen to this school over the past 90 years," Mr Nagatagata said.
"I was so emotional when I saw some students crying when they arrived this morning at the school.
"Students were told to return home as police and other concerned authorities conduct an investigation.
"We really do not know the cause of the fire."
Mr Nagatagata said the fire started around 11pm.
NFA chief executive officer John O'Connor said by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire had already spread to the wooden block of classrooms and the headteacher's quarters.
"Due to the age of the building, the intensity of the fire, the strong winds and the fire load within the classrooms including books, tables, chairs, firefighting was a huge challenge as fire was spreading rapidly within the school," Mr O'Connor said.
"As such, the main firefighting priority was to contain the fire within the engulfed classroom block and the headteacher's quarters and to prevent it from spreading to other similar wooden classroom blocks in the premises.
"NFA investigations are underway to determine the cause of this incident."
Mr O'Connor said Sigatoka firefighters fought hard to contain the fire from spreading.
"NFA wishes to thank all the members of the public who assisted in moving the belongings of the school headteacher."
The school has a roll of 870 students.