As the Glasgow School of Art burns for a second time, the cause of the fire remains unknown.
On Friday 15 June 2018, more than 120 firefighters were called to the historic School of Art in Glasgow to tackle a fire for a second time in four years. It is understood to have burned throughout the entire Grade A listed building having spread from the ground floor to the roof and had also reached other nearby buildings including the Campus nightclub and the o2 ABC music venue.
The devastating blaze follows an earlier fire on 23 May 2014 which was believed to have been sparked by a cannister from a student project. The fire four years ago had led to the rebuilding of the Mackintosh library, a £35 million restoration project, which was nearing completion when the latest fire took hold. Since that time, around 40 households have been unable to return to their homes and over 350 people have been unable to return to their place of work. Council leader, Susan Aitken, claims it could be a further three months before it is safe to do so.
Hopes had been raised that the Mackintosh building, which was totally gutted by the fire, can be salvaged as it emerged that a new sprinkler system had not yet been fitted. Paul Sweeney, the Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow North East and a member of the Glasgow Preservation Trust board, commented: “I was rather surprised at the lack of active fire prevention patrols at the building”.
It was understood that the automatic fire sprinklers were not in operation due to the fact they had not been fully fitted due to the fact that refurbishment was still underway. A spokesperson for the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association commented that sprinklers can be fitted throughout construction on a temporary basis, as there is considerable risk of fire during the restoration phase.
As the fire investigation teams try to learn more about the root cause of the fire, they are facing particularly challenging circumstances. The building has been declared unsafe following a recent council survey which revealed movement in the walls and potential risk of sudden collapse. Cranes are now being prepared to dismantle parts of the building and the mystery surrounding the cause of the fire remains unknown.