A pair of 12-year-old boys have been charged over the inferno which ravaged Forfar’s former Wellbrae primary school at the weekend.
The youngsters are to be the subject of a report to the Youth Justice Assessor following an investigation into the blaze which gutted the empty listed building on Saturday night.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said the fire is being treated as deliberate and The Courier can reveal that it may have been started by an exploding microwave oven which was already inside the building and into which an item of some description was placed.
Fire crews from across Angus and Dundee have been widely praised for their bravery in tackling the ferocious blaze after the alarm was raised just before 7pm on Saturday.
Flames shot around 30 feet through the roof of the school, which was closed in 2008 after being replaced by Whitehills primary as part of Angus Council’s Forfar schools programme.
The early stages of the operation were hampered by a lack of water hydrants in the close vicinity, but the retained and full-time crews overcame that and managed to prevent the fire spreading to a cottage immediately adjacent to the school.
Forfar councillors have expressed sadness over the blaze and former pupil Colin Brown said the wrecked building was a devastating sight.
“I spent seven years there between 1949 and 1956 as a pupil of what was the North School and to go there on Sunday morning and see what was left was desperately upsetting,” he said.
“It’s a part of my life that’s just been ripped away , but my one hope now is that the superstructure of the building can be saved, that Wellbrae can be re-roofed and plans for desperately needed housing can go ahead.”
Councillor Brown added: “I think it would be inappropriate to comment specifically at this stage in relation to the fire investigation and the charges against these two young boys.
“But I would make a plea to parents that they need to know where their youngsters are going and what they are doing, although I relaise that may be asking the impossible.”
Fellow Forfar councillor Glennis Middleton said: “I’m really saddened by what has happened.
“An iconic building in Forfar looks like it’s been absolutely destroyed.
“I’d like to thank all the emergency services for all their brave and hard work.”
A statement released yesterday said: “Police Scotland can confirm that two 12-year-old boys have been charged in connection with a fire at a building in Wellbraehead, Forfar on Saturday October 22.
“Enquiries are continuing and a report will be submitted to the Youth Justice Assessor in due course.”
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We carried out a joint investigation with colleagues at Police Scotland on Sunday.
“We are treating the fire as deliberate.”