Glasgow School Of Art fire: bosses 'hopeful' for Mack future

18 June 2018, 06:29 | Updated: 18 June 2018, 06:35

GSA fire 2018

Glasgow School of Art (GSA) bosses say they "remain hopeful" of a positive outcome for the Mackintosh Building, after it was engulfed in flames.

Around 50 firefighters are still at the scene of the blaze, which broke out on Friday night, spreading to nearby premises including the popular music venue the O2 ABC.

The cause of the fire at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece is yet to be established and its full condition is not yet known.

Muriel Gray, GSA board of governors chairwoman, said: "It is an understatement to say everyone is utterly devastated but as usual the GSA executive team, staff and students, have been outstanding, positive and supportive.

"We now have a difficult waiting game until Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Glasgow City Council and associated agencies have completed their investigations into the condition of the Building.

"We remain hopeful of as positive an outcome as possible because it is clear that the love for the Mackintosh and recognition of its importance to Glasgow and the wider world is shared by absolutely everyone."

A few pockets of fire remain at the site, with crews using thermal imaging cameras to identify any remaining hot spots.

The blaze is the second in four years to hit the Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a multimillion-pound restoration project to return it to its former glory.

Both UK Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said fire service investigations into the cause of the blaze should be allowed to progress before any decision on an inquiry is taken.

Earlier, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) group manager Martin Hill said: "This has clearly been a protracted incident and today we are still very much in a firefighting phase.

"Our firefighters have been working effectively throughout the night and we are continuing to dampen down any remaining pockets of fire.

"We are also using thermal imaging cameras to identify any hidden hotspots and will continue, working alongside partners, to assess our priorities and our tactical firefighting operation over the course of the day.

"We will remain on the scene for as long as it takes - we are absolutely committed to preventing any further damage to surrounding properties and ensuring the area is made safe.

"I would like to express a sincere thank you to our crews on the ground and our firefighters in operations control for continuing to effectively co-ordinate our resources as well as our partners along with the wider community."

SFRS has said it is too early to determine the cause of the fire.

The Holyrood and Westminster governments have said they stand ready to provide support, including financially, to the art school as it assesses what the future may hold.

Experts have estimated that the cost of rebuilding the gutted Mackintosh Building would be at least £100 million, if anything can be salvaged at all.

Fire risk and construction management academics at Glasgow Caledonian University have put forward their views on the extent of the damage and how big a repair bill would be.

Flames ripped through the historic property, designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, on Friday night.

Professor Billy Hare said: "The damage to the School of Art appeared to be overwhelming, much worse than the last fire from which recovered materials were painstakingly analysed and used in the refurbishment of the building.

"It is sadly questionable what, if anything, will be left that could be salvaged, restored or recreated after this fire.

"It remains to be seen if it will be possible to retain a facade from the current building. If not, damaged buildings have been taken down almost stone by stone in the past and rebuilt with a new, internal frame.

"This sort of project will cost a great deal more than the estimated £35 million after the last fire in May 2014".

A conservative estimated cost for full rebuilding of the damaged building would be at least £100 million, he added.

The academics believe it is likely the fire started in the upper levels of the property, due to the roof appearing well alight in the early stages.