A nursery owner has spoken of her devastation after arsonists torched her business.
Patricia Easton managed to stop flames spreading to her adjoining house after she was woken by a burglar alarm in the early hours of the morning.
The owner of Fenwood House Day Nursery in Swinton has now vowed not continue her business from her home in Fitwilliam Street until alternative premises can be found.
The 65-year-old told how she and her husband were woken by the alarm, and only discovered the fire when they entered the nursery at 1.30am to check it out.
“It’s very fortunate we invested in fire doors at the nursery or we very probably wouldn’t be here now,” said Mrs Easton.
She added: “It’s soul destroying to see the damage and the children’s work that they spent so much time on destroyed.
“It’s devastated me. We thought we’d been broken in to but when we entered the nursery there was an awful smell. We opened the doors to the nursery corridor and it was full of black, acrid smoke.
“I’m grateful no-one was hurt, that’s always the main thing, but it’s the children and parents that are our priority and this has inconvenienced everybody.
“I have a superb team of girls who work extremely hard. My nursery manager turned out and was here from 2am to 5am helping out on the night of the fire. The fire crews were fantastic and we are so grateful to them for the way they dealt with everything.”
The nursery employs 11 staff and has run for several years.
“It was always my dream and I set it up after I retired as a PA to a consultant surgeon at Rotherham Hospital,” said Mrs Easton.
“I love working with the children. Everything needs to be spot on for them.”
South Yorkshire Police and the fire service are investigating the cause of the blaze on Friday.