Police enquiry after Braidhurst fires

QUICK REACTION: John McKenna extinguished the fire after the alarm was raised.
QUICK REACTION: John McKenna extinguished the fire after the alarm was raised.

Braidhurst High School is facing a hefty repair bill after its state-of-the-art football pitch was targeted by arsonists TWICE in 24 hours.

A police investigation has been launched after seven patches of the 3G astroturf pitch were burnt sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning.

Emergency services were also called out to the Forgewood school on Monday around 9pm after one of the corners was set alight.

The fire was spotted by passing youngsters who alerted janitor John McKenna, who rushed out with an extinguisher to stop the flames spreading before firefighters reached the scene.

Braidhurst is one of only a handful of schools in Scotland to be awarded SFA Elite Performance School status, and even has its own dedicated SFA coach as part of an impressive football school set up.

Headteacher Derrick Hannan said: “We intentionally leave the gates open at night so that the local kids can use the pitch for free, providing they don’t use it and abuse it - and there’s been no trouble until these incidents.

“On Sunday night going into Monday, several small areas of the pitch were burnt, but on Monday night, one of the corners was set on fire.

“Local youngsters passing by seen it and banged on the doors to alert the janitor, who managed to put it out with an extinguisher before the fire service arrived.

“If this goes on, we will need to consider closing the gate, but we don’t want to have to go down that route.

“If any of the kids who use the pitch know anything about these incidents, I would urge them to let the police know.”

PC Garry Cook, Safer Communities, added: “I’m sure everyone connected with Braidhurst will be extremely disappointed by these reckless acts.

“The pitch is a popular and well-used facility with youngsters in the local community, and it could have been more seriously damaged on Monday evening were it not for the actions of the children who raised the alarm and the janitor who managed to extinguish the fire before the arrival of the fire service.

“I would urge anyone with information regarding these incidents to call Police Scotland on 101.”