Eight fire engines and roughly fifty firemen were deployed to fight the blaze, which was visible for miles across the city. Sparks and embers were seen blowing across the adjacent rooftops and rubble caved outwards onto the street below.
Local residents reported the fire at 10.50pm on Wednesday night; this was confirmed by Martin Barker, Crew Commander of Strathclyde Fire Brigade’s Human Resources Directorate.
He said: “This was a Level 3 response with the first fire appliance mobilised at 22.52. Therefore, we can assume the first call received by our Fire Control Centre would have been approximately 22.50.”
As fire fighters struggled with the inferno throughout the night, a sudden change of wind caused the fire to spread even faster. The flames were not completely extinguished until 2.40 pm on Thursday.
Several other services were called to the scene including Police, the Gas Board, Scottish Power, Glasgow City Council Building Control and Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Media Office.
For the duration of the following day, Lilybank House, which accommodates the Department of Economics, the Centre for Business History and the Centre for the History of Medicine, was closed due to safety concerns, though there was no physical damage to the building. All lectures and tutorials to be held in the building were cancelled on Thursday.
Great George Street and Lilybank Terrace were also closed to traffic until fire crews secured the area at around 10:00 am on Friday.
Glasgow City Council Building Control & Public Safety (GCCBCP) were tasked with assessing the damaged building to determine whether or not the structure was unstable and to implement measures to protect the public and thereafter ensure that any danger to others is permanently resolved.
Stuart Murie, Group Manager of GCCBCP, confirmed that no asbestos had been found in the building.
At the time of going to print, the Fire Investigation team had yet to ascertain the source of the fire. Watch Commander Love, of Strathclyde Incident Research & Investigation Section (IRIS) told Guardian: “Safety issues on the site of Lilybank Terrace have prevented the Incident Research team from investigating the causes of the fire.”
Lilybank Terrace was designed by the architect David Horne and was built between 1881 and 1883. Since 1996 it was the site of the independent all-girls school, Laurel Park. It was bought by Hutcheson’s Grammar school in 2001 and served as their main feeder primary school. The property was recently sold to Credential Holdings for redevelopment and stood disused for over a year before the fire.
The terrace was listed as a Grade B. Building and was also within the Glasgow West Conservation Area.