Students from the Glasgow School of Art formed a guard of honour to send fire crews on their way as they left the campus where a major blaze took hold a week ago.

The city and the arts world were rocked last Friday when flames engulfed the institution's renowned Grade A-listed Mackintosh Building.

Around 200 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze at its height and the fire service has been widely praised after crews salvaged 90% of the structure and saved up to 70% of its contents.

Loading article content

Crews had remained in 24-hour attendance at the Garnethill campus throughout the week as they continued their work in the aftermath of the major incident.

When the last of the fire crews withdrew from the scene yesterday afternoon, they were given a heroes' send-off.

The fire teams packed into two ­engines, sounded their sirens as staff and students waved and shouted "thank you" from the street.

The last of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) appliances then drove down Renfrew Street accompanied by a piper and loud cheers from the art school staff and students.

Art school director Professor Tom Inns said: "We thank the crew who were first here on the scene last week, and who were the bravest ­people in Glasgow.

"We have to thank them on behalf of the staff at the Glasgow School of Art and on behalf of Charles Rennie Mackintosh as well.

"Thank you for ­being here all week, it has been reassuring and helping us get ­everything out of the building.

"It has been a great honour and it has been amazing to work with you in the past week."

He added: "The students returned to the campus today and the GSA is now focusing on its academic work moving forward towards graduation.

"However we did not want to miss this opportunity to once again register our deep and heart-felt thanks to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who over the last week have been quite simply amazing."

Author and broadcaster Muriel Gray was also in attendance and applauded the crews as they left the site.

Sam De Santis, the president of the school's students' association, said: "Given what we saw just seven days ago, the fact that we've had this event and to be so close to the Mack, to actually be able to take photographs on the steps, is remarkable.

"It's the work of those crews who first came on site, they went above and beyond and I can't stress enough the amount of work they did that they didn't need to do.

"They were pulling students' work out of studios while fighting the fire and they helped to make sure everyone was safe.

"It was something incredible."

Mr De Santis added it was a "relief" to get back on to the campus and said: "There have been hundreds of staff volunteering, removing students' work and organising all kinds of things, since Friday.

"This moment was something and it gives us a nice trajectory."

The development came as the Architects Journal announced that it is to present a special architectural award to the SFRS for its extraordinary efforts in saving what it called "one of the world's most admired buildings".

Acting editor Rory Olcayto said: "Their bravery, quick-wittedness and civic pride are qualities the whole architecture profession is grateful for."

Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Twitter yesterday: "This time last week we watched in horror as @GSofA went up in flames. Today they are back in business, thanks to the amazing @scotfire-west."

Earlier in the day, work began on securing a section of the building which had been badly damaged in the blaze.

The Western gable wall was left practically free-standing ­after the roof was ­destroyed and specialists moved in to secure the area and remove the stones, which will be conserved at Historic Scotland's Glasgow Cathedral Depot

Experts used plans created by the school's digital design studio to carefully number each stone before removing it.

An announcement is expected to be made on Monday confirming which departments are to be involved in this year's degree show, scheduled to start on June 12.