Two fire-related incidents caused shock and anger in Midlothian last weekend during the fire service’s busiest period of the year.
Police and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are investigating the incidents which took place during Bonfire weekend, when fire crews are traditionally stretched.
They were alerted to a suspicious fire at 9.40pm last Saturday at the nursery section of the disused Paradykes Primary School building in Mayburn Walk, Loanhead, which has caused extensive damage.
And Police Scotland is appealing for information after two firefighters were assaulted whilst attending an emergency call at Lawfield Farm, Dalkeith, at 8.40pm last Friday. The firefighters attacked were both uninjured.
Two males, aged 15 and 16, have been charged in connection with the wilful fire-raising in Loanhead. The 15-year-old will be reported to the Children’s Reporter. The 16-year-old was scheduled to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday (November 8).
The fire has led to questions to why the school was still waiting to be demolished after lying empty since the school term finished in June. A fire on the school’s grounds last month destroyed £10,000 of children’s play equipment stored in a container by Loanhead After School Club.
Loanhead Community Council chairman Pat Kenny said: “I think it’s major issue as we have also got school building, the library and the next building after that which is the old doctor’s surgery.
“So that’s four empty buildings that have been set for demolition for months now.
“There is a huge amount of anxiety in the community.
“Why are these buildings still standing? If they are due for demolition what’s the problem holding it up?
“I worry someone will be killed in one of these buildings in a fire. It could be kids larking about or some homeless person getting shelter.
“Is there a reason they have not been demolished?”
The council’s cabinet member for property and facilities, Councillor Derek Milligan (Lab) said: “We’re very concerned about incidents of indiscriminate wilful fire raising.
“We continually review security arrangements and assess all properties, including vacant premises. We are working in partnership with Police Scotland on this latest fire.”
Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson, local area commander for Midlothian, said: “It is extremely disappointing that so much damage has been caused to this building.
“I want to thank the public for their support during our enquiries and reassure the local community that behaviour such as this will not be tolerated.”
The two firefighters who were assaulted in Dalkeith last Friday were not injured as a result of the incident.
A group of youths were seen in the area at the time and police are urging anyone who has information to get in touch.
Inspector Neil Mitchell said: “It is extremely disappointing that colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have been assaulted whilst attending an emergency call.
“It is totally unacceptable to attack emergency service workers who are there to protect and support our communities when in need.
“I would urge anyone who has information to get in touch with Police Scotland on 101 quoting reference number 4036 of November 3 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.
“Our investigations are ongoing.”