RESIDENTS living next to a derelict college building likely to have been deliberately set on fire have described the incident as “heartbreaking” but predictable.

On Monday morning, several firefighters carried out a reinspection of the old science lab at the former college site off Constitution Hill Road in Poole after a large fire the day before.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service believe the blaze was started deliberately and the incident has been passed to Dorset Police for investigation.

SSEN workers were also at the site on Monday morning to cut the gas supply line around the college.

Bournemouth Echo: Aftermath of fire at old college building off Constitution Hill Road in PooleAftermath of fire at old college building off Constitution Hill Road in Poole (Image: Newsquest)

Robert and Cheryl Foster live a stone’s throw away from the abandoned college site in Jellicoe Close and were the first people to alert the fire service to the blaze at around 3.45pm on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Foster described seeing a group of youths set fire to a mattress near the science block, with one of them apparently holding a lighter and aerosol can. Upon confronting them, he stamped the fire out and left the scene.

“Next thing we knew there was smoke bellowing from the building,” his wife Cheryl said.

Mrs Foster phoned the fire service who arrived swiftly to extinguish the flames.

Speaking on Monday, Mrs Foster said: “There have been little fires set by kids in the past, it was quite a problem in summer last year, but nothing like this.

Bournemouth Echo: Old science block on fire at former college in PooleOld science block on fire at former college in Poole (Image: Chris Cesarz)

“It’s just a shock. While we were expecting something like this to happen one day, we didn’t expect it to that scale. Coming out here this morning and seeing the building in the state that it is, even though it’s derelict and doesn’t look nice, it is heartbreaking.”

Both support council plans to redevelop the entire site with new homes.

Approximately 40 firefighters attended the blaze at its peak.

A fire service spokesperson said: “Because the roof has fallen within the building, a full fire investigation has not been possible as it is not safe to go inside.”

Inspections of the site are anticipated to last several hours on Monday.