MSPs are pressing ministers on holding a public inquiry into the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) fires.

Their letter to the culture secretary Angus Robertson follows the completion of an investigation which failed to find a cause into blaze in 2018 that destroyed the world-renowned Mackintosh building - which at the time was undergoing £35 million restoration work from a fire four years earlier.

Holyrood's culture committee originally called for a public inquiry with judicial powers in 2019 into the circumstances surrounding the two fires once the probe by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service into the second blaze had been completed.

They also wanted the inquiry to examine the risks posed by fire in historic buildings across Scotland and the ability of custodians to manage these properties - drawing on the lessons learned from the GSA.

Glasgow Times: Glasgow School of Art

The Glasgow School of Art pictured the day before the first fire in May 2014. Photograph Colin Mearns

The committee found that in the period up to the 2014 fire, GSA appeared not to have specifically addressed a heightened risk of fire to the Mackintosh building and was not convinced an adequate risk management approach had been taken by the art school with specific regard to the building.

MSPs were also concerned about the length of time taken for a mist suppression system to be installed in the Mackintosh building and questioned whether more could have been done in the interim period to protect the building.

In a letter to Robertson, Clare Adamson, convener of Holyrood's current culture committee, has press him for an update on a public inquiry into the heritage disasters.

"I am writing to you following recent publication of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Fire (SFRS) Investigation Report into the second fire at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Mackintosh building," she wrote to him in a letter sent yesterday.

"Our predecessor committee – the culture, tourism, Europe and external relations (CTEER) committee – undertook an inquiry to ascertain what lessons could be learned from the second fire. The Committee’s report, The Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building: The loss of a national treasure, was published in March 2019, and stated:

“The Committee considers from the evidence gathered that the Mackintosh fires raise a host of associated issues which go beyond the cause of the fire itself and as such require further examination.”

Glasgow Times:

The Glasgow School of Art on fire in May 2014.  Photograph Colin Templeton

"Furthermore, in its Legacy Report, published at the end of session 5, the CTEER committee concluded: 'The committee highlights the recommendation, to a successor committee, that after the conclusion of the SFRS investigation, the Scottish Government should establish a public inquiry with judicial powers into the 2014 and 2018 fires at the Glasgow School of Art.

"The inquiry should also examine the risks posed by fire in historic buildings nationally and the ability of custodians to manage these properties, drawing on the lessons learned from the GSA. In response to the committee’s report, the Scottish Government committed to explore what options there may be to carry out a fire mitigation review of A listed buildings in public and major institutional ownership.

"The Committee understands this work is ongoing and is being carried out in conjunction with Historic Environment Scotland. Our successor may consider it appropriate to write requesting an update regarding this work.'"

Glasgow Times:

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson 

Adamson added: "Having now considered the matter, my own Committee has agreed, in the first instance, to write to the Scottish Government requesting an update in light of the SFRS report. We would welcome your response at the earliest opportunity."

The second blaze broke out on 15 June 2018 but following an investigation lasting more than three years, the final report published last month concluded that the cause of the second blaze remained "undetermined".

It said this was due to extensive damage and the destruction of evidence. The art school said it "shared the regret" that the exact cause of the fire had not been identified and would take time to consider the report and its recommendations.

In her committee report in 2019, the then convener Joan McAlpine said: “The board of Glasgow School of Art were custodians of this magnificent building, one of the most significant to Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. They had a duty to protect Mackintosh’s legacy.

“Glasgow School of Art itself must learn lessons from its role in presiding over the building, given that two devastating fires occurred within their estate in such a short space of time.”

The devastating blaze that ripped through the famous Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed building in June 2018 also spread to nearby premises on the city’s busy Sauchiehall Street.

Art school bosses have previously said they are confident the Mackintosh will be rebuilt.

An investigation into the May 2014 fire, which reported in November that year, found that the first blaze began when flammable gases from a foam canister used in a student project were ignited.

The Scottish Government have been approached for comment.