NEWS
16/06/2018 07:42 BST | Updated 16/06/2018 16:31 BST

Glasgow Fire: Art School's Mackintosh Building Ravaged By Major Blaze

Despite the scale of the blaze, no casualties have been reported.

Police Scotland Air/PA
An aerial view of the damage caused by the fire.

Glasgow’s world famous Mackintosh Building has been “extensively damaged” by a major fire.

More than 150 firefighters tackled the blaze under “extremely difficult conditions” as it ripped through the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) building on Friday night.

No casualties have been reported, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said.

Deputy assistant chief officer Peter Heath said it was a “devastating loss for Glasgow”, with firefighters dealing with a “sense of loss” along with the city’s people.

The iconic building caught fire at around 23:20 BST on Friday.

Heath said the fire had “spread very rapidly” and neighbouring buildings including the O2 ABC have suffered “extensive damage” as flames and smoke poured into the night sky.

A restoration project, which was set to cost between £20 million and £35 million, had been returning the famous art school to its former glory after another devastating fire in 2014, with Brad Pitt and Peter Capaldi among those lending their support.

All floors of the Mackintosh Building including multi-million pound restoration work, Heath said.

“(The fire) reached from the ground floor right through to the roof. It is significantly damaged,” he said.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service manager David Young said: “The fire has now largely been contained, but this remains a protracted incident and our efforts very much continue at this stage to extinguish the fire and ensure the community is protected.

“There will be disruption around Dalhousie Street, Sauchiehall Street and Renfrew Street and I would advise the public to avoid these areas at this present time.

“I would like to thank our firefighters on the ground and our operations control firefighters for working effectively with our partners throughout the night and into today.”

A passing policeman had raised the alarm. Firefighters pumped water from the river Clyde to help cope, and were guided by a police helicopter flying overhead.

Jane Sutherland, the chair of the local community council and an artist who graduated from the school in 1982, witnessed the fire from her flat and had also seen the start of the blaze in 2014.

She told the Guardian: “This time around I feel numb, like ice, legs like jelly,” Sutherland said. “The fire was immense. People were dodging fist-sized flaming embers last night. All the neighbours were out; we were all worried all the roofs were going up. This area is full of architectural gems.

“It was terrifying last night. The smell of it and you could feel the heat of it two blocks away.”

She said the firefighters had been heroic. “They fought with their lives for that building; they did the last time and they have again.”

Former Glasgow School of Art student Peter Swanton, who also witnessed the 2014 fire, said it “hurts” to see the Mackintosh in flames again.

“The Glasgow School of Art was a home away from home for 4 years and still such an important part of my life. To see this from my roof hurts,” the designer wrote on Twitter.

“I was standing in front of the Mac 4 years ago as it burned.

“I had just finished my first year of art school. I never thought I would see the same scenes being repeated.”

PA
The scene of the fire on Saturday morning.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her first thought was for people’s safety but her “heart also breaks for Glasgow’s beloved” art school.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the government “stands ready to help” the Glasgow School of Art “financially or otherwise”. 

While Prime Minister Theresa May said the British government stood “ready to support the Scottish government in restoration efforts.”