Fire ravages Glasgow School of Art building

A fire has devastated the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland for the second time in four years.

Firefighters had largely contained the blaze by late Saturday morning after it swept through the art school’s Mackintosh Building — described by a local lawmaker as “the most architecturally important building in Glasgow” — and spread to adjoining buildings, including a nightclub.

The alarm was raised at about 11:20 p.m. local time on Friday, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said in a statement. More than 120 firefighters were battling the blaze at its peak.

About 50 crew remained at the scene nearly 12 hours later, working to extinguish “a few pockets of fire,” the fire service said.

Deputy Chief Officer Iain Bushell earlier described the fire as “an extremely challenging and complex incident” that would take time to bring under control. No casualties were reported.

“The fire has taken hold several properties including the 02 ABC nightclub causing extensive damage,” Bushell said.

The Mackintosh Building — designed by the famed Scottish art nouveau architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh — was badly damaged by fire in May 2014 and had undergone extensive renovation work since. It had been expected to reopen next year.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, tweeted her relief that people were safe but said her heart was also breaking for Glasgow’s “beloved” School of Art.

Paul Sweeney, the member of Parliament for Glasgow North East, tweeted that he was devastated by the blaze. Scottish Fire and Rescue are “doing everything they can to salvage the most architecturally important building in Glasgow,” he said.

He said in another tweet: “A major reason the 2014 Glasgow School of Art fire spread so rapidly was because of the horizontal and vertical timber-lined air ducts that run through the building. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same ducts have exacerbated the rapid and comprehensive spread of the fire tonight.”

As the fire spread, Sweeney, a former shipbuilder who describes himself a Glasgow architecture geek on his Twitter page, added that “the best we can probably hope for is structural façade retention and a complete rebuild of the interior.”

Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell tweeted that he had been to see the restoration work only two weeks ago and that his “heart goes out to all those who had worked so hard on it.”

The UK government “stands ready to help, financially or otherwise,” he added.

Nearby buildings that could be at risk from the fire have been evacuated as a precaution, the fire service said. People living in the area were urged to stay indoors and keep their windows closed.