YET again our city is having to come to terms with the aftermath of a devastating fire.

It’s just over a week since Glasgow School of Art’s world renowned and much loved Mackintosh Building - or The Mack as it’s known affectionately across the city - caught fire for the second time in just over four years. Even now, more than a week later, it is still difficult to believe that one of our most prized buildings has again experienced such tragedy.

Indeed, the sense of shock still feels as strong as it did when the news first broke late on the Friday night. And, of course, for residents and businesses in the immediate vicinity - some of whom still don’t have access to their properties - the shock is accompanied by real disruption and many practical worries about the future.

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The Saturday afternoon after the fire took hold of the building I visited the site and met with the fire fighters and those from our other emergency services who had been working tirelessly to bring the blaze under control.

Once again their professionalism and bravery was awe inspiring - and there is no doubt at all that it was their skill and dedication that ensured the fire did not claim any lives or cause any serious injury.

And that, of course, is the most important thing and we should not forget that.

However, the sense of heartbreak at the loss of such an important building is still palpable. There are few schools of art in the world where the buildings themselves are works of art. It is because of the sheer genius of Charles Rennie Mackintosh that Glasgow School of Art is one of them.

The Mack is important not just for Glasgow, but for the world. It is an architectural gem which holds a special place in the hearts of the thousands of people who have studied or worked there, and, of course, to those of us who cherish it as an integral part of the fabric of the city.

It’s therefore not surprising that so many people feel a sense of personal loss, with the added heartache of this happening in the 150th anniversary year of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth - and, of course, just one year out from its planned reopening after the fire in 2014.

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The outpouring of messages from across the world, with many people sharing their graduation photos across social media and detailing their cherished memories of their times spent studying there have served to underline how valued the Mack, and the Art School generally, is.

In the New York Times last week I read an interview with alumnus and former Makar, Liz Lochhead, where she recounted writing the drafts of her first poetry collection in the library of the Mackintosh Building and captured perfectly its significance when she said of Glasgow without the Mack, “It’s like Paris without the Eiffel Tower, like London without Big Ben”.

As well as students and teachers past and present, we also know those who worked on the restoration will be going through a worrying time. They have painstakingly worked on bringing the Mack back to life over the past few years and I can barely imagine how distressing it must feel to see that work disappear overnight.

Sadly, the School was not the only iconic building in Glasgow to be affected by the fire.

The O2 ABC is one of Glasgow, and Scotland’s, most celebrated music venues and I realise what an upsetting time this has been for the people who work there, and for the musicians and music fans of Glasgow.

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The fire has also had major implications for local businesses and others whose livelihoods have been affected and many of them have also faced issues because of recent fires in other parts of Sauchiehall Street. I know that Council leader, Susan Aitken, met with affected businesses last week and I welcome her announcement on rates relief, which should offer some comfort at this difficult time.

Despite this sense of devastation we can draw some hope.

They say ‘People Make Glasgow’ and I think that’s especially true in these testing times. The sense of community is strong, particularly so within the cultural scene, and has been demonstrated by the many offers of support which have come forward. The willingness of alternative music venues to step in and help find solutions for concerts that will have to be re-scheduled from the O2 ABC is a perfect example of this community spirit.

And the pride we all have in Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his design is not lost – the Mackintosh influence adorns the city, particularly in this anniversary year with many exhibitions and events planned, and with the restoration of the Willow Tearooms.

The next steps will be difficult ones. We do not yet know what caused the fire and we may not know for some time. But we have been here before and one thing is certain - all of us, including the Scottish Government, will do everything we possibly can to ensure there is a future for the Mack and that it is a fitting, bright and positive one.