Shops begin counting the cost of city centre blaze

The fire investigation team on Hanover Street

The fire investigation team on Hanover Street

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Business owners were counting the cost yesterday of a blaze which ripped through a city-centre building.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service confirmed last night that the fire began on the ground floor of the Thomas Cook shop on Hanover Street.

Though the cause is still unknown, the blaze on Thursday afternoon is not being treated as suspicious. Local businesses have been left clearing up after the fire left smoke damage to a number of neighbouring properties.

Marce Filanowicz, a partner in the I Love Candy store, told the Evening News yesterday: “About £400 worth of stock has been ruined, plus a lot of the gift bags.

“The smoke had also turned the floors and walls black.

“I’ve been cleaning since 7.30am but there’s still a very bad smell. We’ve been ventilating the shop but nothing seems to be working.

“Edinburgh City Council have been very, very helpful. They told us to throw out all the ruined stock and send our insurers invoices.”

She added: “Today there are firemen and police all over the place. There are also investigators checking things like gas meters.”

Kevin Watt, owner of the New York Steam Packet restaurant, located on Rose Street behind Thomas Cook, said: “We were actually quite lucky as the restaurant was closed at the time and there’s no actual fire damage inside.

“However, everything is covered in soot from the smoke and all our stock has been ruined because the power was cut.

“We had quite a few large parties booked over the next couple of days too, which have now had to be cancelled.

“I’m also having to arrange for a company to come and do a deep clean.

“But to put it in perspective – from my building I can see through the roof of Thomas Cook all the way down to the ground floor.

“Hopefully we should be open again next week.”

Lindsey Adam, owner of Bonkers giftshop, also felt her business had a lucky escape: “We had quite a serious flood last year which led to us having to close for seven weeks, so when my staff got in touch to tell me there was a fire I really thought that might be it for us.

“Luckily there is hardly any damage – a slight smell of smoke but that’s pretty much gone now. However, the lock on the front door is broken and the door itself is damaged.

“The fire brigade decided to crowbar the door open after the staff had been told to leave and locked the premises.

“I had to get a joiner in today and I don’t know who is going to pay for that – I don’t want to claim on my insurance again.”

Group Commander Colin Bruce, of Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue, told the Evening News they had received no complaints from business owners about doors being forced open, but if any were submitted they would be fully investigated.