MORE than 40 firefighters tried in vain to battle a blaze at the much-loved former Govilon Primary School last night.

Reader video sent in by Rebecca and Isy Moir of Govilon

Two people were arrested as more than 40 firefighters battled flames at Govilon Primary School.

Residents in The Avenue were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge at nearby Llanwenarth Baptist Chapel amid fears fumes coming from the fire could contain asbestos.

Fire appliances from Ebbw Vale, Brynmawr, Blaenavon, Abertillery, Blaina, Cefn Fforest and Cwmbran were all at the scene of the incident, which started at around 5pm.

Despite the attempts to save it, the building was completely gutted.

Last night it was too early to say what caused the fire, but Robert Webb, communications manager for Monmouthshire council confirmed no-one was injured in the incident and officers would be at the scene today to carry out an investigation.

The fire is a sad final chapter for the school, which closed in July after a bitterly-fought campaign to save it.

Monmouthshire council decided to close the school to help combat surplus spaces in the borough.

In May 2009 there were 65 children in the 114 capacity school and council officials estimated closing it would save £134,381.

Former headteacher of the school Rob Lewis said the school, which had a tremendous inspection report before it closed, was the centre of the village.

"I have a lot of fond memories of the school, both professionally and personally.

"We prided ourselves on knowing the pupils and their families and that enabled us to provide the very best in education.

"Before the school closed we had some very emotional moments in that building, especially with parents who would have tears in their eyes when they spoke about the closure of the school and indeed we all fought hard to avoid that.

"This is a terrible way for things to go."

Elizabeth Smith of Usk View, whose son Morgan was a pupil, was devastated by the news the school had burned down.

"My son is really upset by it, I can see the embers rising from my house. Its a very sad ending."

Residents who were evacuated were allowed home before later last night.