Mortonhall fire: 26 funerals postponed

Firefighters battled to control the fire. Picture: Neil Hanna

Firefighters battled to control the fire. Picture: Neil Hanna

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A BLAZE which ripped through a chimney at Mortonhall Crematorium has resulted in 26 funeral cancellations with further disruption likely.

Investigation teams are trying to establish the cause of Tuesday night’s fire, which is understood to have caused “significant damage” to the roof area above a cremator next to Mortonhall’s main chapel building.

The fire broke out at 7pm. Pic: Greg MacVean

The fire broke out at 7pm. Pic: Greg MacVean

Managers at the city council-owned crematorium said structural and health probes had been carried out.

But they stressed it was too early to say what caused the incident or put a monetary figure on the damage.

They have released a list of services, scheduled to take place between today and Saturday, which have had to be cancelled and signs are emerging that some arranged for next week may have to be axed.

Eyewitnesses described how a number of coffins were removed from the scene by firefighters and placed carefully in private ambulances as the fire took hold.

One elderly man, who asked not to be named, said his wife’s service was due to be held at Mortonhall on Monday but revealed cancellations had forced him into a last-minute change of venue to Seafield Crematorium.

He said: “We were at the undertakers when she told us the funeral had to be cancelled. I think the fire has put an awful strain on people. We’re just taking this in our stride. We’re disappointed but glad we managed to get somewhere else.”

Another mourner, who was due to attend the funeral of her partner’s grandmother at 9.30am yesterday, said: “It is a shame for the fire to have happened [and] I feel for all the families affected.

“It has been stressful and I hope all the families affected can peacefully have their service for their loved ones.”

Around 35 firefighters battled through the night to bring the blaze under control after crews were alerted at around 6.45pm on Tuesday. There were no reports of casualties.

City leaders said there were no human ashes in or around the main chapel waiting for collection when the fire broke out.

A council spokeswoman said: “A fire occurred at Mortonhall Crematorium yesterday evening and was brought under control by the Fire and Rescue Service.

“A full investigation of the area is now under way to assess damage and take measures to ensure that the site is safe. Unfortunately, this means all services this week will be postponed.

“We are in contact with those affected and would like to thank anyone who was expecting to attend a service this week for their patience, as well as the funeral directors involved for their support.”

Further information on services affected by the fire can be obtained by calling 0131-664 4314.

More information can be found here: tp://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20019/burials_and_cremations/321/cremation_in_edinburgh

M&F Funeral Services say anyone attending one of their services over the next week can get more information on 0131 653 6177.

Scotmid Co-operative Funeral Services also said anyone concerned they may be affected can contact them on 0131 555 5550.