FIREFIGHTERS have been praised for their quick actions which prevented a fire destroying two neighbouring schools.

A fire ripped through two demountable classrooms and a garage at Edith Borthwick School for pupils with special needs in Church Street, Bocking, overnight on Monday.

But firefighters were praised for stopping the blaze destroying any further buildings or spreading to Bocking Primary School which shares the same site.

Fire investigation officer, Richie Farrant, said: "We got a call at 9.32pm from someone who said they could see smoke and flames coming from the school.

"The first fire engine was on the scene in ten minutes and by then the two classrooms were totally ablaze.

"There was a shortage of water which meant we could not get much water pressure, however the firefighters were heroic in their efforts to save the rest of the buildings from the blaze."

While the blaze was being tackled one of the firefighters tripped and twisted his ankle and was taken to hospital.

Mr Farrant added: "There was also a minor explosion which may have been an aerosol and small gas canister.

"We are currently investigating the cause of the fire and haven't ruled anything in or out."

A scene of crime officer from Braintree Police was due to help the investigation, arson has not been ruled out.

Headteacher of Edith Borthwick School, Gary Pocock, said: "The fire fighters were fantastic and I cannot praise them highly enough. Braintree were first on the scene but then firefighters from the rest of the county all came along to help.

"I would also like to thank to community for reporting the fire and helping the firefighters get access to water."

He said the school, which caters for 160 pupils with special needs, hopes to reopen on Monday following a cleanup operation.

"One of the problems is that pupils find change very difficult so we will be doing are best to move them to a temporary, perhaps in the school hall or library until we can get replacement rooms," he added.

The classrooms which were destroyed were used by pupils aged between 14 and 19. Many pieces of coursework were destroyed in the fire as well as equipment, books, and teachers notes.

There is a plan to rebuild the school in 2012 and Mr Pocock said that new demountable classrooms would probably be installed in the meantime.

A school caretaker lost many of his personal belongings and car when the blaze burnt the garage where he kept his things.