UK & World News

  • 24 May 2014, 11:00

Glasgow Art School Blaze: Salvage Operation

Firefighters battling a blaze at a historic art school building in Glasgow say they have managed to save the majority of its contents, including student art work.

Crews were called to reports of a blaze at Glasgow School of Art's Charles Rennie Mackintosh building at about 12.30pm on Friday.

It is believed the fire started in the basement and spread to the upper floors where flames were seen leaping from windows and the roof.

Firefighters who were at the scene within four minutes of receiving the first emergency call brought the fire under control and said more than 90% of the structure was "viable".

Indications are that they also protected up to 70% of the contents, according to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

It is not known which artworks have been saved.

There were no casualties but a number of people had to be helped from the Category A listed building on the corner of Renfrew Street and Scott Street.

Sky's James Matthews said the blaze is believed to have broken out while final year students were preparing their end of year degree shows on the upper floors.

Many of the students were in tears as they witnessed their efforts go up in smoke.

Broadcaster Muriel Gray, a former student and current chairwoman of the school, was another who burst into tears as she arrived and saw the building in flames.

The art school, designed by the famous Scottish architect and dating from 1897, is a tourist attraction and is regarded as a building of "national or international importance".

It attracts around 20,000 visitors a year, with tours given of the building.

Hugh Thornhill, a second year student, said: "I was helping one of the fourth years set up their exhibit and suddenly the alarm went off. We saw smoke coming out and realised that it was really bad."

As well as renowned artists, former students include members of the bands Travis and Franz Ferdinand, Architect and TV presenter George Clarke and actors Peter Capaldi and Robbie Coltrane.

Travis lead singer Fran Healy tweeted: "Man the mac library is all wood!!!! And loads of paper!! Man!!"

George Clarke said: "Devastating to see the Glasgow School of Art in flames...I'll support its full restoration in any way."

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) described the blaze as "an international tragedy".

Fire brigade assistant chief officer Dave Boyle said crews worked " absolutely flat out" in an effort to save "this treasured building and many of the items it housed".

He said: "While the priority from the outset was to save life we have also been working closely with GSA staff to ensure firefighters conducted an effective salvage operation.

"Work to save everything that can be saved is ongoing and we will continue to work closely with GSA staff and students throughout this operation."

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