A fire ripped through Glasgow’s St. Simon’s Catholic Church in the early morning hours of Wednesday, leaving the storied house of worship a gutted and smoldering ruin. As reported by The Herald, the fire started just before 3:00 AM and rapidly ripped through the masonry structure, ultimately causing a roof collapse approximately half an hour later.
The gothic-style church was constructed in the West End neighborhood of Partick in 1858 and it is the third oldest within the Archdiocese of Glasgow. It has long served the area’s burgeoning Polish population who began immigrating to the surrounding district following World War II. In a statement, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow noted that “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.”
Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are still investigating the cause of the fire, and, according to the Glasgow Times, have deployed an aerial drone to probe the remains while the agencies continue to battle the blaze. Additionally, Police Scotland is calling for any witnesses to come forward to report any suspicious activity or individuals in the early morning hours.
Over the last century, Glasgow has unfortunately earned the nickname ‘Tinderbox City‘ due to the frequency and severity of fires within the city limits. Perhaps the most infamous case in recent years is the Glasgow School of Art, which erupted in flames in 2014, and again four years later following the near completion of a comprehensive restoration.
weird how this keeps happening to buildings that stick out like sore thumbs in areas with high concentrations of characterless yet lucrative student accommodation https://t.co/XzWI7SAy53
— chris (@yrpalchris) July 28, 2021
While the cause of the fire may prove to be innocuous, some are noting that a recent spate of fires-in-the-night across Glasgow are conspicuously located within areas rife for redevelopment. For example, St. Simon’s is located just a few blocks south of the University of Glasgow and is more or less surrounded by privately owned and incredibly lucrative student housing—a banal typology sprouting across the United Kingdom.
No one was seriously injured during the blaze, though nearby buildings have been evacuated.