SMOKE alarms saved a Wellington school from devastation after an arsonist tried to raze it.
Police say the arsonist gutted a car parked in a residential Miramar street about 1.40am, before attacking Miramar South School about 3am yesterday.
Police are looking at possible links with other suspicious fires in the area, including a rubbish bin and bushes set alight about the same time on Wednesday.
The school fire was lit against the main classroom wall, but smoke alarms saved it from much damage. It was well alight when firefighters arrived.
"Potentially it could have been razed to the ground. Had it not had smoke alarms, I think that is exactly what would have happened," Detective Sergeant John van den Heuvel said.
Principal Jeanette De La Mare said it was a huge relief that so little damage was done, and she was grateful for the smoke alarms.
The school has set up 24-hour security.