A MAJOR IT meltdown within Scotland's largest council is expected to run until the beginning of next week as engineers are primed to resolve the problem across the weekend.

Glasgow City Council's email network went down after IT servers were accidentally sprayed by fire extinguishers.

An air conditioning unit "catastrophically" malfunctioned releasing gas, which then kicked in the councils fire alarm or "fire suppression" system.

This then sprayed a substance used to extinguish flames - not water, according to a council spokesman - all over the IT hub.

It damaged a server, taking out the email network, with the council's main switch board number was also out of action for a short time.

But unless a quick fix solution being worked on across the early hours of Thursday gets the system up and running again it is not expected to be operational again until Sunday.

Engineers from the authority's arms-length IT firm Access are on standby to work around the clock on Saturday and Sunday to ensure the problems are resolved ahead of the next working week. The system went down on Tuesday meaning it would be a whole week the council would be without its emails.

Emergency meetings were taking place across Wednesday to find a solution to the problem and decide whether to focus on the shorter or longer term fix.

With many staff roles dependent on IT systems, insiders claim there has been rush of employees taking annual leave as their roles are made temporarily redundant.

One source said that those most affected were social work teams reliant on emails for field work, with the problem most acute for those on night duty providing services to other local authorities and often dealing with the police.

The source said: "Senior management have been telling staff they expect the issue to be fixed by Friday. But others are now saying Monday, with everyone from Access in across the weekend to make sure it doesn't run any longer. The phones going down had some impact on routine work but the pressure is being felt most by those in social work who rely on email more than most."

Another source said: "If the problem isn't fixed by Thursday then it'll be Sunday."

They say that vital services for vulnerable people, which rely on the faulty email system, are being carried out manually.

A spokesman said: "The catastrophic failure of an air conditioning unit has damaged some of our IT equipment.

"Our email system is down but vital services, particularly those for vulnerable people, are being delivered manually."

The local authority took to social media to warn people that emails to them will not get through.

A tweet from the council read: "Our email system is down. If you have emailed us since yesterday morning we have been unable to deal with it."