A fire that torched a large part of Hornby Island's only public school a week before classes started has been deemed suspicious.

Hornby Island Community School was badly damaged after fire broke out at around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 26.

The structure was left inoperable and unsafe, forcing the Comox Valley School District to make other arrangements for the 40 or so students who went there.

Following several days of investigation, RCMP now say the blaze is suspicious in nature – and they've already identified a person of interest in the case.

Police are now looking to speak with any witnesses who have not already come forward.

Those with information are asked to call Comox Valley RCMP at 250-338-1321 and quote file number 2018-12075, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Students and staff displaced from the school will instead be kicking off their semester with a three-day educational program based out of Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre.

A long-term solution for replacing and repairing the school has not been identified, but in a recent meeting with parents, the district said it was looking into installing portables.

The district has also promised parents that children will not be required to attend school off Hornby Island.