CHILDREN had to be rescued after a blaze ripped through a primary school, causing extensive damage.

Around 14 youngsters who were at an after-school club at St Dominic's Primary in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, were rushed to safety when fire swept through the entire building yesterday (thur).

Witnesses said the blaze appeared to start on the roof near two workmen, at 3.55pm.

About 25 households were evacuated from their homes due to the blaze.

They were taken to a community centre and offered accommodation for the night.

Dozens of firefighters tackled the blaze through the night.

After-school care worker Sinead McMullan, 19, said she saw flames on the window blind and evacuated the children out safely.

She said: "We were in the dinner hall and I just started to smell smoke.

"I looked to the gym and saw the window blinds were on fire. I called on the janitor.

"The kids knew what to do, they knew there was a fire. So I got them outside, they ran out the back and lined up in the playground.

"We moved them away because the smoke was spreading.

"The fire seemed to circle the whole roof, it was so quick to spread."

The Scottish Fire and Rescue service said homes were evacuated as a precaution.

Karen Kyle, 34, and her three children aged three, 10 and 15, live in the home nearest the school.

It is expected that her home will be damaged by the smoke and water used by fire teams.

She said: "I couldn't believe it spread so quickly. It just went all the way round the roof.

"I was in tears, I thought my house would be gone. I was thinking of everything we would have lost."

Residents spoke of their shock at the blaze.

Grahame Marshall, 52, an estate agent, said: "I spoke to the headteacher just after the fire started and she was devastated.

"The fire was raging. It's wiped out a whole school."

There were no reported injuries.

North Lanarkshire Council said the school, which has around 180 pupils, would be closed today and they would provide further updates for parents.