Police start inquiry as blaze guts old school

Fire ripped through the old Hopefield Primary building. Picture: Paul Hossack

Fire ripped through the old Hopefield Primary building. Picture: Paul Hossack

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A BLAZE which tore through a former primary school is being investigated by police.

Hopefield Primary School on Rosewell Road, Bonnyrigg, was left gutted after being engulfed by flames on Sunday night.

Council workers assess the damage. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

Council workers assess the damage. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

More than 30 firefighters spent four hours attempting to bring the blaze under control, with five appliances called out to the scene.

Crews confirmed no-one had been injured in the incident, which is believed to have started within the old school’s roof.

Former pupil Scott McLaughlin, who lives next door to Hopefield, was one of around 50 residents who gathered to watch as the local institution went up in flames.

The 22-year-old said: “It was very emotional to stand and watch essentially a lot of memories get burnt away.

“The fire was pretty big and it engulfed the building quite quickly – it was scary.”

Hopefield Primary was closed in 2012, with pupils and teachers moving to the newly-built Burnbrae Primary School on Burnbrae Road in November of that year. Since then, the building has been used by Midlothian Council to store surplus furniture and files.

A council spokeswoman said an inventory check was under way to establish what had been lost in the fire, with the whole building eventually due to be demolished.

Darius Namdaran, chairman of Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council, also witnessed the blaze and said the community had been left shocked by the incident.

He said: “It’s just surprising that something so substantial can be wrecked within the space of about an hour.

“I was standing there amazed that that can happen so quickly.

“Nobody knows how it started, but there have been some fireraising incidents nearby recently.

“It’s such a waste to see a valuable asset like that brought to the ground. But I was seriously impressed by the way the firefighters coped with it and tackled it.”

Police are appealing for those with information about the fire to come forward.

Inspector Caroline Mackay said: “This fire has caused extensive damage to the building and will most probably result in its demolition.

“The cause of the fire is still to be established and an initial investigation by the fire service will be undertaken today.

“Anyone with information, or anyone who was in the vicinity of Hopefield Primary School, is asked to contact police immediately.”

A fire service spokeswoman confirmed the incident was being probed by the Fire Investigation Unit.

A spokeswoman for Midlothian Council said emergency services would “remain on site till the site is deemed completely safe”.

She added: “The site is being fenced off and the council have a demolition contractor in attendance. Any unsafe parts of the building will be taken down as a priority. The whole building will eventually need to be demolished.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com