Bulldozers move in on fire-ravaged Art Deco city centre furniture shop

Firefighters worked 'extremely hard' to tackle the blaze as it tore through the former Robertson's building on Saturday.

The demolition of a historic Art Deco building in Dundee city centre is under way after being ravaged by a deliberate fire.

Firefighters worked “extremely hard” to tackle the blaze as it tore through the former Robertson’s furniture store on Saturday.

The Art Deco Willison House on Barrack St was built in the 1930s to the design of H Pierce Robbie and was on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland.

Dundee City Council said the fire had left only the exterior walls intact and they were likely to collapse because of their dangerous condition.

Demolition teams bring down Willison House.

The cost of the demolition will be covered by the local authority before it then seeks to regain the cash from the building’s owners.

The city engineer and building standards officers assessed the premises and found the roof and floor had been entirely consumed and the internal steel frame had buckled due to the heat of the fire.

A Dundee City Council spokesperson said: “Despite our efforts to consider how much of Willison House could be retained, the extent of the fire has left nothing that can be saved.

“The exclusion zone will be maintained in the meantime in the interests of public safety. The work will be carried out as quickly as possible to allow the situation for business in the surrounding area to return to normal.”

Crews remained at the scene on Sunday morning after the fire sent a large column of smoke over the city centre which could be seen from the opposite bank of the Tay.

Several neighbouring streets are still closed and are expected to remain so for some time.

The fire is being treated as wilful and Police Scotland said officers are following a number of lines of enquiry to identify those responsible.

More than 50 firefighters battled the flames which broke out at 6pm on Saturday.STV News

Detective sergeant Stuart Martin, from Dundee CID, said: “This was a reckless and dangerous act of fireraising, which has caused significant damage and disruption to the area.

“We have spoken with a number of witnesses and would appeal for anyone with information on the incident to come forward and assist our enquiries.”

Videos showed the fire engulfing the derelict building as dozens gathered in crowds to watch.

Shona Robison, the SNP MSP for Dundee East and social justice secretary, tweeted: “Such a shame to see the destruction of the once lovely Art Deco Robertson furniture store building in Dundee.

“Thoughts are with the emergency services working hard to get the blaze under control.”

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, quoting incident 2800 of November 12. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, if you wish to remain anonymous.