Peebles High School: Police confirm boy charged in connection with wilful fire raising

A boy has been charged in connection with a fire that caused “serious damage” to a secondary school in the Scottish Borders.

Pupils and staff at the school were evacuated as fire crews began tackling the blaze, which left severe damage to the building.

Pupils and staff were evacuated as fire crews tackled the blaze at Peebles High School shortly before 1pm last Thursday.

Up to 70 firefighters were on site at the height of the blaze, with many remaining well into the Friday to dampen down remaining hot-spots.

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Police Scotland yesterday confirmed one boy had been arrested and charged in connection with wilful fire-raising. A report will be sent to the Children’s Reporter.

A second boy has also been arrested and released pending further inquiries.

Chief Inspector Stuart Reid said: “We would like to thank the public for their patience while the investigation into the fire continues as we work alongside our colleagues at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“We continue to liaise with the Scottish Borders Council in connection with the safety and security of the buildings, and the impact on the local community.

“We’d remind the public that, as the person charged is below the age of 18, he cannot be named or identified for legal reasons as per the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.”

Shortly after the fire Scottish Borders Council made a “swift decision” to close the school until after the Christmas break.

Education secretary John Swinney praised the quick action of staff to ensure pupils’ education continued following the fire as he made a visit to the damaged site yesterday.

Pupils have been learning online from home this week.

Face-to-face teaching will resume from Monday.

Mr Swinney has pledged support to Scottish Borders Council following a meeting with the authority’s chief executive yesterday.

He said: “The damage to Peebles High School is extensive and I would like to pay tribute to Scottish Borders Council and school staff for their continuing efforts to minimise disruption to pupils’ learning.

“Their work and the efforts of the Peebles community will see pupils returning to face-to-face lessons as soon as next week.

“It is testament to the diligence and professionalism of our firefighters and other emergency services workers, as well as the timely action of staff and pupils to quickly evacuate, that there were no casualties.”