The GFRS Emergency Control Room received a call yesterday (19th June) at 16:31hrs from a member of the public informing of a fire in the Old Westside School building.
Two fire appliances were dispatched at 16:32hours with 8 fire-fighters. One fire appliance approached via the old school entrance whilst the other appliance made its approach through Montagu Gardens and were in attendance by 16:35hrs. The fire had developed very quickly and there was a very quick intervention with two jets applied from the Montagu Gardens location and another two jets from the Westside School location. This quickly suppressed the fire from growing further and resulted in a partial collapse of the roof.
The Officer in charge assessed the scene and immediately called for a third fire appliance. This also instigated a minor recall of an additional 4 fire-fighters to cover any other incidents and the Airport Fire & Rescue Service was informed and placed on standby.
The building was surrounded with a ground monitor and another 6 jets and copious amounts of water was applied. There was no risk of further fire spread but there were a few roof and staircase collapses with near misses to fire-fighters. A defensive tactic was adopted as there was no risk to valuable property or life. There were no persons reported and the building in question was derelict.
Relief crews were called in to take over from their colleagues who put in strenuous efforts in difficult conditions. At 19:05hrs the water supplies were shut off to check for hotspots using the Thermal Image Cameras. Damping down and monitoring operations continued until midnight.
A structural engineer was called in this morning to assess the building and roof. The building was deemed unsafe to commit any fire investigators from the GFRS or Scenes of Crime Officers from the RGP. However, the building has no electrical supply and it is suspected that the fire could have been started intentionally.
The GFRS would like to thank its Crews for the professional approach and hard work as well as colleagues from the Royal Gibraltar Police, Gibraltar Ambulance Service, the Airport Fire and Rescue Service and other agencies who assisted.