Corstorphine fire: Pledge to rebuild gym

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THE owner of a historic building gutted by a major blaze has vowed to rebuild the site.

Gordon Murdie, 57, made the pledge as smoke continued to billow from the ruins of the smouldering Elite Fitness Studio in Corstorphine.

The fire gutted the building. Picture: Ritchie Callaghan

The fire gutted the building. Picture: Ritchie Callaghan

It is understood the fire may have started in a heater within the gym before sweeping through the adjoining wall and engulfing Corstorphine Community and Youth Centre yesterday morning.

Up to 20 children who were attending a holiday kids club within the centre were forced to flee as smoke began to fill the hall. At the height of the blaze, a pall of smoke rising from the fierce inferno – which has razed the building to the ground – could be seen across the Capital.

Quantity surveyor Mr Murdie said: “It’s very sad for the community, there was a hell of a lot of history attached to that building. The whole thing may now have to be demolished, the structure might very well have been affected by the fire, if the external walls have been undermined in any way then it will have to come down. Locals can rest assured though that any rebuilding will be keeping in style wherever possible to how it once was.”

Mr Murdie currently leases the property to fitness studio owner Richard Donaldson, who on the morning of the fire was already reeling from the death of his grandmother.

The fire has left just a shell of the building. Picture: Sandy Irvine

The fire has left just a shell of the building. Picture: Sandy Irvine

Mr Donaldson was too emotional to talk following the loss of his relative and his business but his wife, Fiona, said: “It’s all so raw. We built the gym five years ago and have about 100 members. This was our entire livelihood, I cannot believe it.”

The home of community centre caretaker, Donna Robertson, who lives beside the facility, has also been gutted and the city council were last night working to find her temporary accommodation.

Built in 1892 as Corstorphine Public Hall, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded a library extension which was built in 1903.

During the Second World War the building was used by the Ministry of Food to

Firefighters are battling the blaze. Picture: @Cammydouglas

Firefighters are battling the blaze. Picture: @Cammydouglas

distribute powdered eggs and milk. Nowadays, one half of the building plays host to Elite Fitness Studios, while the

other is home to numerous community groups and the St John’s Corstorphine Masonic Lodge.

Local resident Marjory Douglas, 72, said: “It’s terrible to see it all burned out, it’s very upsetting. The centre was used a lot by the local community. I’ve lived all my life around here and while everything else has changed, that building always remained the same. Thankfully nobody was injured, though.”

NO PANIC AS CHILDREN WERE EVACUATED

Gavin Chalmers, 30, from Corstorphine, has worked as a sports leader within the community centre for seven years and was leading a kids club when the fire broke out.

He said: “When the schools are on holiday we lay on a sports club. We were in the hall around the back when we began to smell smoke, then we spotted it coming through the wall from the adjoining gym.

“Straight away I told all the kids to put on their shoes and start heading out. The smoke was coming from behind a radiator and it was filling the hall when we got outside you could see it billowing from around the back. It’s amazing how quickly it all happened.”

‘I’m sure community will pull together’

Local councillor Frank Ross, treasurer of the management committee that runs the centre, vowed it would recover.

He said: “It really is such an active community centre – we have 38 separate groups using the facility from toddler groups to a gaelic play society to the table tennis club. It is a real central hub.

“I’m sure the community will pull together in the wake of this fire.

“Currently as a management committee we are working to accommodate these groups within other nearby halls and churches. We will also look to help Richard Donaldson, who tragically lost his fitness studio, in any way we can.”

He added: “I am 100 per cent confident of this building returning as a community facility, it might take a few years but we will reopen.”