AN investigation has been launched after a former Johnstone nursery was destroyed in a huge blaze.

Emergency services rushed to the old Spateston Pre-Five Centre, in Walpole Place, at around 5.35pm on Friday.

Flames leapt from the building and thick smoke billowed into the air as firefighters tackled the inferno.

The building was already in the process of being demolished, due to its poor condition.

However, some residents have said more should have been done to secure the site.

The Gazette: Flames tore through the former Spateston Pre-5 CentreFlames tore through the former Spateston Pre-5 Centre

Lewis Nesbitt, founder of the Spateston Community Development Trust (SCDT), told The Gazette: “This was effectively a ticking time bomb.

“Demolition work seemed to start and abruptly stop midweek, leaving the inside of the building exposed and vulnerable.

“Thankfully, no-one was injured and the building was being demolished anyway due to its state of disrepair.

“We would urge the community to stay away from the site until specialist clearance has been completed.”

It is understood the scale of the damage at the site has had an impact on efforts to establish what caused the blaze.

A police spokesperson said: “We received a report of a fire at a premises in Walpole Place, Johnstone, at around 5.35pm.

“No-one was injured and enquiries are ongoing.”

The Gazette: Smoke and flames poured from the old nursery buildingSmoke and flames poured from the old nursery building

A spokesperson for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service added: “We were alerted to reports of smoke coming from a building in Walpole Place.

“Operations Control mobilised three appliances. There were no reported casualties and crews left after ensuring the area was made safe.”

Renfrewshire Council said it has ensured the site is “safe and secured.”

A spokesperson added: “We have arranged for the contractor to demolish the remainder of the building.”

Members of SCDT, formerly known at the Spateston Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, had previously considered renovating the building to serve as a new community centre for the area.

However, following a survey of the premises last year, it was estimated that it would cost almost £500,000 to carry out repairs.

Mr Nesbitt remains hopeful a positive use for the site can be identified.

He said: “We intend to enter into discussions with Renfrewshire Council in the new year as to how we can use the land, perhaps for a community garden.”