Video: Hotel guests thought fire was terror attack

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HOTEL guests thought Edinburgh was under terror attack after an exploding car sparked a mass evacuation.

Guests at the George Hotel, many visiting for the Edinburgh International Television Festival, were forced out into the rain after the Vauxhall Zafira was engulfed in a fireball.

Firefighters are battling the car fire. Picture: Kenny Farquharson

Firefighters are battling the car fire. Picture: Kenny Farquharson

One hotel guest said some initially feared the car had been firebombed.

He said: “I’m from Belfast and when I saw it I immediately thought ‘oh no, it’s a bomb’. It was pretty scary.”

Plasterer Gary McKenzie, 52, was working nearby when the car burst into flames in Thistle Street yesterday morning.

He said: “We’d been working in the basement when we heard the bang. It was half an hour before they got the fire under control – it just kept bursting into flames.

“There was quite a few loud explosions. They were violent enough to make the whole car jump.

“The firemen nearly jumped out of their skin when the second explosion went off. Once the fire crew put the flames out, the amount of smoke and steam coming from the vehicle was incredible.

“I would imagine it’s been an electrical fire.

“It surprised me how long it took them to get the fire under control – you could feel the heat from over here.

“I’m surprised the car beside it didn’t go on fire.”

Police cordoned off Hanover Street while office workers rushed to see the blaze for themselves.

A fire spokesman said the cause of the explosion was not yet known. Many sudden car faults are caused by electrical faults or battery problems.