Art School Library Lost In Fire

The "iconic and unique'' library at Glasgow School of Art has been lost in the fire which swept through the world-renowned building.

After an inspection of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building today, the school revealed that the majority of the structure was "intact''.

Broadcaster Muriel Gray, the art school's chairwoman, said the institution's archives had also been saved.

She said: "Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated.

"But the most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact.

"Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and professional pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of firefighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire.''

Earlier, the fire service said that around 90% of the building has been salvaged and up to 70% of its contents saved.

Smoke could still be seen rising from the charred windows of the school this morning - 24 hours after the flames took hold.

No-one was injured in the fire but art lovers, architects and famous former students spoke of their sorrow at seeing the building in flames.

The fire service has yet to confirm the cause of the blaze, which some students have suggested could have started in the basement when a spark from a projector caught a piece of foam.

As well as housing one of Europe's leading art schools, the listed Mackintosh-designed building is a tourist attraction in its own right.

Completed at the turn of the 20th century, it was voted as the best building of the past 175 years in a poll by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba).

Both the Scottish and UK Governments have pledged funding support to help any restoration work required to the building.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said Westminster would give "millions'', if necessary, while Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the SNP Government was committed to "strongly supporting the funding effort'' required.

Ms Gray said the damage was "considerably less'' than feared and although students have lost some or all of their work, many others had theirs preserved.

She said staff and curators would be able to enter the building to assess what could be salvaged in the next few days.

"The joy that our archives are safe combines with the delight in seeing most of our beloved building bruised and battered but most certainly not destroyed.

"As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible.

"Our main concern right now is the welfare of the students and the impending graduation and everyone is working hard together to achieve the best outcome for all.''

She thanked the public for the "warmth of support'' and said she had "run out of words'' with which to thank firefighters.

"But the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes'' she added.

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