The night fire has taken hold of the Braeview Academy


The Braeview Academy fire displaced students for 14 weeks and brought memories of the devastating Morgan Academy fire back to the city.

These images of the fire show the full extent of the flames.

Braeview Academy was established in 1996 after Linlathen High School closed.

Linlathen opened in 1958 as a junior high school.

Its attendance quickly exploded and it was turned into a high school for its 1,200 students in 1973.

Linlathen High School when the building opened in 1958.

Discussions around its closure began in 1992.

A major fire in October 1992 had destroyed the school’s science labs and Tayside Regional Council began debating the best course of action.

Initial plans were to reduce the school’s capacity to 700 students and renovate the building.

However, the plans never came to fruition.

The school continued in the years that followed before the new council drafted a report and Linlathen was slated for demolition.

The Braeview Academy fire received a major response from the emergency services
The Braeview Academy fire received a major response from the emergency services. September 11, 2018.

Students from Linlathen were to be merged with those from nearby Whitfield High School.

Both would be moved to Whitfield with a new name.

The new Braeview Academy opened in 1996 and the school has continued to be the childhood backdrop for many Dundonians.

September 11, 2018.

All fire and police crews in the city’s north participated in the fight against the high school fire on the night of 9/11.

The roof was consumed by flames that rose about 30 to 40 feet into the air.

Passers-by said the fire spread from one end of the building to the other in just 20 minutes.

Initially, it was feared that high winds that night would cause the fire to spread into nearby woods.

Efforts to extinguish the fire.  September 11, 2018.
Efforts to extinguish the fire. September 11, 2018.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 9 p.m.

A total of nine fire and rescue appliances and four high-rise vehicles arrived and attempted to flood the building.

All surrounding roads have been closed.

Firefighters brought the incident under control around midnight, but was it too late to save the school?

The investigation begins

The question on everyone’s lips was: what had caused such a devastating fire?

With the school now closed to pupils, children and caregivers were determined to find the answer.

Firefighters remained on site overnight. September 11, 2018.

A meeting of emergency personnel was held the following morning at 11:00 a.m.

Teachers gathered at nearby Ballumbie Primary School to discuss next steps.

Meanwhile, the students and their parents waited for news.

It was a delicate negotiation with several conflicts of interest.

The children had to be kept safe, but they also had to be kept at school, and not all caregivers were able to transport them to another location even further away.

Emergency services at the scene on September 11, 2018.
September 11, 2018.

At the time, the local council refused to make a final decision until a full damage assessment had been carried out.

Until they saw the extent of the wreckage, they still couldn’t decide if it was possible to save the building.

Elsewhere, Dundee City Council’s Director of Child and Family Services, Stewart Hunter, was trying to lift people’s spirits.

He said: “We have been in this situation before when the Morgan Academy was badly damaged and we took care of it.

“We’ll take care of that too.”

Morgan Academy

The fire brought back memories of Morgan’s fire.

On March 21, 2001, the school was emptied despite the best efforts of about 70 firefighters.

The renovated secondary was closed for three years after the fire, but finally reopened at the start of the 2004-05 term.

The school’s students were housed in the old Rockwell High building while the academy was completely rebuilt.

Their stay in a new location was a palliative, a resting place rather than a final destination.

Hopes were that Braeview pupils would be just as lucky.

Braeview Academy.  September 11, 2018.
Braeview Academy. September 11, 2018.

A few weeks after the Braeview fire, a phased return was announced for pupils at the school.

However, Braeview would remain closed and they would begin to return to their classes at two different schools in the city.

Craigie High and the new Baldragon Academy were to be their new playground until at least the October holidays, the council said.

With the school now empty, Dundee City Council were able to get inside and fully assess the extent of the damage.

The school's roof and top floor were badly damaged.
The school’s roof and top floor were badly damaged. September 12, 2018.

Shortly after, the Evening Telegraph spoke to investigators.

While the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined, investigators believe a small bonfire gone bad may have started the blaze.

Although not a deliberate arson attempt, high winds could have fanned the flames towards the school and started the blaze.

Parts of the building had completely collapsed. September 12, 2018.

In November 2018, a full report on the fire was released.

A total of eight safety failures, all of which had been highlighted months and years earlier, remained unresolved by the time the flames engulfed the school.

The actions required, including the replacement of the entire CCTV system and the installation of locks on the cabinets of the individual gas shut-off valves, were never carried out.

The wreckage from above.
The wreckage from above. September 12, 2018.

Three others of the eight incomplete requirements had been repeatedly reported to education officials over a five-year period.

These included the need to replace and upgrade the school’s comprehensive fire alarm system and “substandard” emergency exits.

At the time, the council insisted that “all urgent matters” raised in the fire risk assessment had been implemented.

Parents and children, they said, had no reason to be concerned about the report.

Back home

Just over three months after the fire, Braeview Academy has reopened.

His students could now go “home”, the council said.

Parts of the old building had been repaired and several temporary classrooms had been set up on the grounds while the final works were completed.

Final Thoughts

Fire chiefs investigating the blaze pointed to a ‘lack of training and guidance’ given to the warden as part of her responsibility to keep the building safe – despite the fire occurring outside of school hours.

A fire safety audit raised further concerns about staff training, fire drills and preventing further arson.

Ultimately, a 15-year-old boy was charged in connection with the fire and referred to the youth justice system assessor.

New school

As for the future of Braeview Academy, it is again under threat of closure as the board plans to merge it with neighboring Craigie High School and move the two sets of students to new premises.

It will be replaced by a new single secondary school and community learning campus on Drumgeith Road.

It is planned to open the new school in August 2024.

Proposed new school premises.
Proposed new school premises. 2021.

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