HUNDREDS of students had to be evacuated from their university after a blaze broke out in a wood workshop and sparked a large dust explosion.

Emergency services raced to Edinburgh Napier's Merchiston campus after a fire ripped through the basement area just after 10.30am. It is thought to have been caused by a piece of equipment overheating.

Although students managed to put out the blaze, embers got into the extraction system which caused a dust explosion, sparking a second fire.

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Billy Webster, of the ­Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: "In 25 years as a firefighter I have never experienced a dust explosion. The fire damage was mainly confined to the extractor machine although there was considerable smoke damage on the first floor."

The university will re-open today.