Peebles High School fire: Council chief executive praises firefighters and school staff

While council officers await clearance to assess the damage done to the Peebles High School building following yesterday’s fire, arrangements are being prepared to ensure its pupils will be able to study for upcoming exams.

As firefighters continued to damp down the still smouldering building this morning, officers from Scottish Borders Council were waiting to gain entry to the badly damaged building, which remains closed today and Monday – which is a public holiday.

On site this morning, Tracey Logan, chief executive of the council, praised the firefighters for their commitment to saving most of the school and the staff and pupils at the school for the quick and orderly evacuation following the alarm.

She said: “Fire crews have remained on site at Peebles High School overnight and this morning and I would firstly like to pay tribute to them for their tireless efforts.

A firefighter at the scene.

“I would also like to praise the staff and pupils for the way in which they dealt with the incident yesterday and the prompt evacuation of the school.

“The community of Peebles responded quickly too, and I’d like to thank all those businesses and residents who offered and provided their support to the school and to the emergency services. That support is greatly appreciated.

“At this time this remains a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service-led incident and we continue to work closely with them and Police Scotland. It is not appropriate to speculate on the cause of the fire.

“Until the fire service has completed its work and the necessary investigations are carried out access to the site will be restricted. Once the school is handed back to the Council we will do our best to quickly assess the damage, caused not only by the fire but also smoke and water, and look at arrangements for the coming days and to return belongings to pupils and staff.

Water is poured onto the blaze.

“Our priority is maintaining continuity in the education of our young people here in Peebles and we will work throughout the weekend to make plans for next week and beyond and will communicate to parents, pupils and staff through the normal channels and our dedicated webpage”

The gym hall, which has been destroyed by the fire, was meant to be a polling station in less than two weeks for the general election.

However, Ms Logan said that plans were in place to move it to another building.

Priorsford Primary, which used to host a polling station, is the most likely location, but the council will confirm its plan B to those affected in the coming days.

Evacuated pupils at the rear of the school.
Firefighters attempt to extiguish the blaze in the old gym hall.