Glasgow fire completely destroys 160-year-old church as fireball shoots out window

One person was rescued and neighbouring homes were evacuated as a massive blaze which has destroyed a 163-year-old church.

More than 30 firefighters battled the inferno at Glasgow’s Roman Catholic Parish Church of St Simon after it was reported at about 2.40am on Wednesday.

A person who was helped out of the church was given precautionary treatment at the scene as the blaze tore through the building.

Dramatic photos show a huge fireball shooting several feet into the air through a front window as flames extend through parts of the roof, which later collapsed.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Residents in neighbouring properties were evacuated as firefighters deal with the incident, while others were told to keep their windows and doors shut

Six fire engines and two height appliances were sent to the incident when the alarm was raised in the early morning hours.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said one person was helped out of the property and given precautionary treatment at the scene in Partick Bridge Street.

A spokesperson said: A spokesperson for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were alerted at 2.40am on Wednesday, July 28 to reports of a fire within a church on Partick Bridge Street, Partick, Glasgow.

“Operations Control mobilised six fire appliances including two height appliances and more than 30 firefighters are in attendance and working to extinguish the fire.

“One person was assisted from the property and given precautionary treatment at the scene.

“Adjacent properties have been evacuated as a precautionary measure and nearby residents are advised to keep windows and doors closed due to smoke.

“Road users should avoid the area to allow access for emergency service vehicles and due to road closures.

“Crews are expected to remain in attendance for some time.”

Video shared on social media showed searing flames burst through the roof of the old building with plumes of smoke billowing up into the night sky.

A local resident said: “Fire came from inside and broke out through the large stained glass at the front facade. The roof collapsed around 3:30am.

“Church owner/tender Mary who lived in the adjoining house was evacuated with no injuries. House now under siege from the fire.

“The inferno rages on toward the back of the 150-year-old structure where two cranes are trying to extinguish the blaze.”

One person said of the blaze on Twitter: “We got woken up by walkie-talkie sounds, fiancé went out and the church across the bridge has been completely destroyed in a fire within half an hour.

“St Simon’s was beautiful to look at.”

Another said the disaster was “just completely shocking and heart-breaking”.

They added that no one was hurt and the surrounding flat’s were unaffected.

One person said: “St Simon’s church in Partick is gutted. 150 years old, gone in 30 mins.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Around 2.50am on Wednesday 28 July 2021, police and emergency services were called to a fire at St Simon’s Catholic Church on Partick Bridge Street, Partick, Glasgow. The church has been extensively damaged.

“A number of residents from homes in the street were evacuated as a result of the fire. There have been no reports of anyone injured as a result.

“Emergency services remain at the scene and inquiries are continuing into the cause of the fire.”

The historic B listed church was originally built in 1858 by Charles O’Neill as St Peter’s before a renovation in 1956.

It underwent a £400,000 refurbishment between 2005 and 2008 for its 150th anniversary. A grant from Historic Scotland and fundraising by the congregation paid for the work.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow said: “The destruction of St Simon’s church by fire will be a blow to people far beyond the west end of Glasgow.

“Though small in size, St Simon’s was well-frequented and was the spiritual home of the Polish community in the west of Scotland who had established a shrine there.

“It was also a focal point for the local community, and especially the homeless who benefited from a cafe on site which had to be suspended during the pandemic.

“The church of St Simon’s is linked to the larger parish of St Peter’s in Partick and worshippers will be accommodated there.

“The cause of the blaze is not immediately apparent, but we will work with the Fire Service as they investigate the site.

“St Simon’s was a much-loved landmark at Partick Cross and its loss is a heavy blow.”

Sikorski Polish Club said: “Extremely sad news this morning. Saint Simon’s Church has been used by the Polish Community since WW2 when Polish Soldiers stationed nearby marched there every Sunday for Service.

“Today it was at the heart of our Polish Community with Polish Services every week. It will be greatly missed.”

It is where the actor Simon Pegg and his wife Maureen McCann got married in 2005 in front of guests including actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

SNP MP Carol Monaghan said she was “absolutely devastated” following the fire.

She wrote on Facebook: “I am absolutely devastated to wake to the news that my parish church of St Simon’s in Partick has been destroyed in a fire.

“Thankfully Sister Mary is okay.

“I was married in St Simon’s and all my children were baptised there.

“This is a massive blow to the Catholic community in Partick as a building of such historic and cultural importance is lost.

“St Simon’s was originally established in 1858 by Fr Daniel Gallagher, (who taught David Livingstone Latin which allowed Livingstone to attend Glasgow University). It was the original St Peter’s and when the congregation grew too large, the new St Peter’s was built in Hyndland Street.

“Those who have visited St Simon’s will know what a special place this was and will understand how devastating this loss is for the Partick Community.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “What a devastating couple of days for Catholics in Scotland. First a cowardly attack on a priest in his place of worship, followed by this. I know St Simon’s had a special place in the Polish community’s heart. Solidarity with our Catholic community in Scotland.”