BY GREGORY KATZ
LONDON (AP) — Firefighters sought to limit damage to the historic Glasgow School of Art Saturday, after a dramatic fire that ravaged it spread to neighboring properties and led to several evacuations.
Officials said there was serious damage to the renowned Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing an extensive restoration after the arts school was badly damaged by another fire in 2014.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service deputy assistant Peter Heath said the “extensive” fire affected all the floors of the building, including those that were being restored in a multi-million pound (dollar) effort to reclaim its former glory.
There were no immediate reports of casualties but the fire devastated one of Glasgow’s most treasured buildings, designed by celebrated Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and built between 1897 and 1909. Officials said Saturday morning the fire was not completely out but was under control, and latest television footage showed firefighters continuing to spray jets of water at the building to try and prevent further damage.
The cause was not immediately clear.
Flames and smoke slowed efforts by more than 120 firefighters to put out the blaze that started late Friday night. Extensive damage was reported at a nearby nightclub as well.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the government “stands ready to help” deal with the aftermath of the fire at the architecturally important building.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was heartbroken by the fire, tweeting: “This is clearly an extremely serious situation. My first thoughts tonight are for the safety of people – but my heart also breaks for Glasgow’s beloved @GSofA.”
The landmark building had been due to reopen next year after restoration.
“Devastated that a major fire has broken out at the Glasgow School of Art tonight,” Shadow Scottish minister Paul Sweeney tweeted, calling the Mackintosh “the most architecturally important building in Glasgow.”
The Scottish fire and rescue service said the call about the fire came in at 11: 19 p.m. Friday local time.
A number of roads around the art school were closed while crews tackled the blaze.
Connor Neil, a 22-year-old chef from Glasgow, said people had been evacuated from their homes and there was a “big orange light” coming from the school that could be seen from streets away.
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