ABOUT 100 students were evacuated safely as fire took hold of a section of St Joseph's Primary School at Kerang.
The alarm was raised around 10.10am on Tuesday.
Firefighters took about an hour to contain the fire at the southern end of Nolan Street. It has badly damaged the school canteen and storage areas for sports equipment and students' school bags.
The area is adjacent to the historic school hall which served as the first Catholic school after it was established in 1912.
Students were evacuated to an area across the road adjacent to the church.
A huge pall of black smoke was billowing from the building when the first of three Kerang fire crews arrived on scene. A Barham fire crew provided additional breathing apparatus resources and specialist equipment has been sent from Cohuna to assess internal structural damage.
Parents have been contacted and a steady stream of adults has been arriving to take children home.
Nolan Street and Fitzroy Street on each side of the school have been closed to traffic.