Glasgow School of Art fire: Salvage operation for precious artworks continues

The world-famous art school caught fire on Friday afternoon

A salvage operation has been conducted throughout the night by fire crews desperately working to “save everything that can be saved” at the Glasgow School of Art.

The world-famous art school was saved from “total destruction” after flames engulfed the Charles Rennie Makintosh building on Friday – but precious artwork was destroyed in the blaze.

Firefighters who were at the scene within four minutes of receiving the first emergency control brought the flames under control and said more than 90 per cent of the structure was “viable”.

Indications suggest they were able to save up to 70 per cent of the contents, according to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

It it is not known which artworks - including those of students - have been saved and salvage work is ongoing.

  The fire started during a busy time as students prepared for their end-of-degree show but everybody was said to have been evacuated from the building safely.

Flames could be seen through the scorched windows and billowing out of the roof of the sandstone building on the corner of the city's Renfrew Street and Scott Street as the fire took hold at around 12.30pm.

Large crowds gathered near the scene as multiple fire crews tackled the blaze, with several people crying as they watched the events unfold.

Broadcaster Muriel Gray, a former student and current chairwoman of the school, was among those who burst into tears when she saw the building in flames. She called it “an absolutely devastating day” for the institution.

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".

The Glasgow School of Art – designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh The Glasgow School of Art – designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh 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.

"We are of course very conscious the Mackintosh is a world renowned building that is a key feature of this great city, and that the artworks it stores are not only valuable but also cherished.

"We are acutely aware this period is the culmination of years of endeavour for students and that their irreplaceable work is inside the Mackintosh.

“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.”

A GSA spokeswoman added: “We would like to express our very sincere thanks to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for their tremendous efforts throughout today.”

They later added on Twitter: “A massive thank you to scotfire-west for your courage, strength and audacity today GSofA.”

Earlier, chief officer Alasdair Hay, of the fire service, described the approach to tackling the fire.

He said: “We regularly attend significant fires but the iconic status of this building is not lost on us.

"Part of our operation is to try and salvage what we can and we worked with colleagues from the school who identified objects of significance that they would like us, if possible, to save.

“They described the objects and their location and we briefed officers and firefighters where they could, did the salvage if it was safe to do so.”

He added: “There are structural engineers here and we are working with them to save as much of the fabric as we possibly can.”

The institution is one of Europe's leading art schools, while the listed Mackintosh-designed building is a tourist attraction in its own right and one of Scotland's most “iconic” structures.

Work started on the building in 1897, taking 10 years to complete. More than a century later, it still operates as a working building serving hundreds of students.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Read more: Building 'saved from total destruction'
Glasgow's Mackintosh building
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition