Musselburgh harbour counts cost after arson rampage

A police forensics officer investigates boats damaged by fire at Fisherrow Harbour. Picture: Jane Barlow
A police forensics officer investigates boats damaged by fire at Fisherrow Harbour. Picture: Jane Barlow
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FIREBUGS subjected a quiet harbour community to six hours of mayhem – causing damage worth tens of thousands of pounds.

A flat, three cars, a van and two boats all went up in flames around Musselburgh’s Fisherrow harbour on Sunday night, with at least two yachts broken into and ransacked.

Shocked residents said the rampage had destroyed livelihoods and left them devastated, with the blame pointing to a gang of teenagers.

Police confirmed they were investigating a blaze at a Beach Lane council flat, as well as the torching of a boat just hours later.

Forensic teams scoured the harbour yesterday looking for clues, while uniformed 
officers cordoned off several areas throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

A fire service spokesman said four engines were called to the second-floor Beach Lane property at around 9pm on Sunday, with crews battling for almost four hours to control the flames.

Residents reported seeing thick black smoke billowing from the flat’s windows, while those on the floor below suffered water damage as high-pressure hose reels were deployed.

Less than three hours later, a blue fishing boat was set alight at the harbour, destroying its wheelhouse and causing an estimated £30,000 worth of damage. Then, while crews fought to extinguish the blaze, another boat belonging to the local Sea Cadets – which was refurbished just last year by the navy – was set on fire at the other end of the harbour.

Meanwhile, three cars and a van were torched on nearby streets along the promenade, causing devastating damage to their engines.

Michael Fairnie, owner of the blue fishing boat, said the vessel was now a “total write-off”.

Witnesses described seeing flames reaching 30 feet into the air as the boat’s hydraulic oil tank caught fire, with the smell of burning thick in the air.

Mr Fairnie, 54, said: “I’m in shock. It’s part of my livelihood.”

The incident comes just five years after the skipper suffered a near miss when his trawler’s engine gave out as he headed past perilous rocks at 
Eyemouth harbour.

Marjory Macleod, a teacher who lives opposite the fire-ravaged flat on Beach Lane, described the moment she saw her silver Vauxhall Astra had also gone up in flames.

She said: “I saw the bonnet was up, and that it was black. I knew what had happened because there was a car up the road last Monday that was set alight, and one round the corner in January. I’m worried. If I get another car, is it going to happen again?”

Police said no-one was injured in any of the incidents.

A spokeswoman said: “If anyone remembers seeing anybody acting suspiciously around this time and in those areas, please contact Police Scotland on 101.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com