A Dundee school has been badly damaged in a late night fire.
Firefighters and police raced to Braeview Academy in Whitfield shortly after 9pm yesterday as high winds helped flames spread across the roof of the building.
Crowds of shocked onlookers gathered at the gates of the school on Berwick Drive, in the north-east of the city, well into the small hours, while others took to the fields to the north of the building on the hills at Barns of Wedderburn to watch as thick acrid smoke and bright orange flames rose from the roof top.
The earliest reports from officers at the scene indicated no one was injured. Officers from Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service maintained a tight cordon around the scene.
The school will be closed to pupils today, while staff will meet with council officers later to put in place emergency procedures to try to limit the disruption to pupils’ education.
Dundee’s executive director of children and families services, Paul Clancy, said making sure pupils would be able to get back into a school building and resume their studies was top priority.
Mr Clancy arrived at the scene to assess the situation last night.
He said: “The damage from the fire is extensive. We will need to have a full assessment once the police and the fire service are finished but there is extensive damage to the building which is very sad. The main thing for us now is to make sure the pupils’ education doesn’t suffer in any way.
“We do have contingency plans in place in the event of fires and incidents like this, so we will meet tomorrow with staff, the head teacher Lesley Elder and other colleagues in the council to put these plans into place.
“Our hope would be to have children back into a school building very shortly and we will be keeping parents informed about that. Our main priority is to have the children back in a building and have them fully educated.
“This will affect the local community, pupils, staff and even former pupils, they will all be feeling pretty sore tonight about seeing the school like this.
“Braeview is a really strong community school with a lot of good feeling and a lot of good will towards it. It has educated many people over the years, so there will be a lot of people very sad about what has happened.
“We will work very closely with all our partners to make sure these pupils’ education does not suffer as a result of this.”
Nearby resident David Rodgers saw the blaze while out walking his dog in Dunbar Park.
He said: “It was an extensive fire. The flames were about 30 to 40 feet in the air and it spread from one end of the building to the other in about 20 minutes.”
Community safety and public protection convener Councillor Alan Ross was also at the scene, where he paid tribute to the bravery and professionalism of the fire and police services.
He said: “All of the partners have done, and do, a fantastic job in keeping people safe. You can see with an event like last night, it is obviously too early to say exactly what has happened or the extent of the damage but police officers and firefighters will stay at the building until it is safe and see the job through.
“As always, I pay tribute to the fire service and the police for the job they are doing and I would reassure the local community that we will do everything we can to secure the building and make it safe.”