Salvage operation continues after devatstating fire at Glasgow’s Mac

The blaze that ripped through Glasgow’s renowned Mackintosh Library on Friday caused substantially less damage than was initially feared, it has emerged.

The Mackintosh library, recognised as one of the finest examples of art nouveau in the world, has been completely destroyed.

But 90% of the structure is said to be viable and 70% of the contents were saved.

The courage of firefighters who decided to tackle the fire from the inside by forming a human wall up the main staircase is being credited with averting a far worse disaster.

Muriel Gray, chair of Glasgow School of Art’s board of governors, said: “After ensuring no lives were in peril, they displayed an impressive understanding of the precious nature of the building, and due to their careful and meticulous handling of each developing situation the damage is considerably less than we dreaded.

“We have run out of words with which to thank them, but the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes.”

Alasdair Hay, chief officer with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said most of the 200 firefighters involved in the operation were from Glasgow and were acutely aware of the importance of the building.

“Choosing to fight a fire of this scale from inside the building is a risk for firefighters and requires the highest standards of professionalism,” he said.

GSA staff, archivists and disaster recovery specialists spent the weekend working with the fire service to salvage as much as possible from the building, including students’ degree show work.

They said “significant progress” had been made including taking a photographic record of each studio and retrieving artefacts from the west wing which bore the brunt of the fire. Dating from 1907-1909, this is where the library was.

The earlier wing, dating from 1897-1899, which includes the Mackintosh Museum, Mackintosh Room and the furniture gallery, has survived intact. The school’s archives were also saved.

Offers of specialist help and donations have been flooding in.

A statement on the Mac website said: “Each of us has been inundated with offers of support - moral, financial and general or specialist assistance. We really want to acknowledge and harness this support which has come not only from across the city and Scotland but worldwide.”

Any offers of support can be emailed to Alan Horn at

Donations can be made online here.

Police and the fire service are now attempting to establish how Friday’s fire started. Early reports suggested it was caused by a projector exploding in the basement and setting light to expanding foam.

It emerged that the school was due to be fitted with a “fire suppression system” this summer, though this would not have included sprinklers because of the risk water posed to the building.