The operation to make safe Forfar’s fire-ravaged Wellbrae primary school building is underway.
Machinery moved onto the Wellbraehead site to begin the job if taking down parts of the 135-year-old C-listed sandstone building which a blaze ripped through last month.
A total of five young boys – three 12-year-olds and two 11-year-olds – have been charged by Police Scotland in connection with the October 22 fire and are to be reported to the Youth Justice Assessor.
The Courier understands the inferno may have been sparked after an item was placed in a microwave oven which had been left inside the building.
Wellbrae was closed by Angus Council and replaced as part of the Forfar schools project some years ago.
It had lain empty since 2008, although the dining hall annexe was converted into Forfar community church, which escaped unscathed in the Saturday night outbreak.
The blaze was tackled by some 50 firefighters from Angus and Dundee and drew a huge crowd of onlookers as flames ripped through the roof of the building and into the night sky.
In recent months the building had been a target for young vandals, with several instances of boarding being removed from windows and reports of youngsters climbing onto the roof of the old school.
Wellbrae had been earmarked for conversion into 16 flats by local firm Taylor Shepherd Homes, with discussions underway between the company and the local authority over amendments to the design at the time of the devastating blaze.
The extent of the damage had meant that the building was too dangerous for contractors to enter to carry out a detailed assessment of what parts of the burnt-out shell may be retained.
The central façade, chimneys and a small gable wall above one of the entrances to the school have all been identified as unsafe and will be removed in the coming days prior to a further examination from inside the building to assess the full extent of the structural damage.