YOUNG arsonists are being hunted following a blaze at a West End school.

Police launched an investigation after most of Kings Primary School's sports equipment was destroyed in the fire, which broke out shortly after 9pm yesterday.

The main school building was just minutes from being destroyed in the blaze which is said to have started under one of two wooden sheds used to store PE equipment.

It's a double blow for the school, which suffered a break-in two months ago, in which all of its sports equipment was stolen.

Firefighters were called to the site in Quob Lane after a passer-by raised the alarm.

Four appliances from Southampton's Hightown fire station arrived as flames began threatening into two nearby classrooms. One was left severely smoke damaged.

Windows were smashed, guttering melted and trees and a wooden fence also caught fire.

Thieves are believed to have kicked down a wooden fence panel before raiding a shed and stealing 50 fluorescent striplights. They were found smashed in a nearby copse.

Today staff were on site determining how much had been lost.

Governors chairman David Adcock said it wasn't yet clear if the 130 pupils could return to school next Tuesday.

"One classroom has suffered some damage but we don't know how serious that is yet," he said.

"It is very sad when things have been destroyed and we are grateful to the fire service because the fire could have been a lot worse."

A member of the schools Parent-Teacher Association said: "It's terrible. The sports equipment had only just been replaced. Now it's all burnt.

"We have to find out if insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding the two sheds. There is some question of cover because they were outbuildings

"The children will be really upset. They had put a lot into the school and the vandals have destroyed it."

A spokesman for the fire service said: "The blaze had just started creeping into the main building through two of the classrooms when we got there.

"If we had been just seconds longer in arriving, the fire would have spread inside the classrooms and the school would have been facing far more substantial damage."