The Morgan Academy fire in March 2001 is a night few in Dundee will ever forget.
Now, to mark Sunday’s 20-year anniversary of the school inferno, we are bringing you the story as you’ve never seen or read it before.
Our in-depth study features unheard testimonies from key firefighters and senior fire officers and control room staff disclose tactics used and challenges faced by crews at the impossible fight.
Former firefighter and amateur cameraman Ed Thomson was on the scene that fateful night. He has shared with us a series of previously unseen photos that reveal closer views of the Morgan Academy blaze than ever before.
In their own words, those involved in the incident describe scenes which shocked even the most experienced members of the fire service.
We hear from the firefighters who rushed into the building in a desperate attempt to save it from destruction, and from the aerial platform operators who watched from above as the Gothic masterpiece was engulfed by flames.
We remember the gasps of shock as the Victorian school’s iconic clock tower collapsed and hear from the control room operator who took the first call, the first crew on the scene, the senior officers in charge, many firefighters and the fire safety officer who investigated the blaze.
Teachers who witnessed the shocking incident also share their story, as does the then rector of Morgan Academy.
Morgan Academy fire: A moment in history
Two decades on, the blaze is still one of the city’s biggest and most significant fires – a prominent moment in Dundee’s history.
Crowds of people watched in heartache as the sky glowed orange and flames devoured the building at incredible speed, leaving nothing but smouldering ashes in its wake.
The fire was found to be caused by workmen applying felting to the roof using blowtorches and prompted a £20 million rebuild of the historic building.
Courier deputy editor Graham Huband was among those who watched as the school burned down and like many can easily recall exactly what he saw that night.
He said: “Standing in the grounds as I did as a young reporter just feet from the distraught rector and dozens of pupils as one of the city’s finest pieces of architecture burned was by turn distressing and exhilarating.
“The fire was furious and there were gasps of disbelief when the clock tower was lost to the flames. Windows blew out and there were occasional explosions from within. The heat could be felt from more than 100 metres away.
“After the immediate shock began to dissipate, focus turned to what had been lost. For the most senior pupils it was no joke. Months of schoolwork and meticulous exam prep had been lost in an instant.”
“Twenty years on and people still talk about where they were the night Morgan Academy caught fire. But these new pictures and interviews shed fascinating new light on one of the city’s biggest stories.”
Morgan Academy fire: 20 years on — see our special in-depth feature, video documentary and more never-seen-before photos on this website from Friday
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