Thursday, 19 July 2012

Busy city centre streets closed after fire breaks out in travel agent

By Cara Sulieman
Fire: Crews are battling the flames in Hanover Street.STV
Two busy main streets in the capital have been closed after a large fire at a travel agent.
The blaze broke out at Thomas Cook on Hanover Street just after 3pm on Thursday and the smoke plume could be seen around the city.
After spreading into the roof of the travel agent, it has also spread to a two-storey building at the back which houses the New York Steam Packet restaurant.
Around 60 firefighters are battling the flames and support staff are also on the scene.
A staff member at a neighbouring restaurant told STV News they evacuated diners when smoke started to appear in their premises.
Richard Beattie said: "We didn't think it was that bad to begin with and kept on serving for another five or ten minutes because it was just a little bit of smoke. We thought it would be put out quickly.
"When we saw flames on the roof we got everybody out. The smoke started coming into the restaurant, both on the ground floor and even in the staff area in the basement. You could see the flames coming out of the top above Thomas Cook."
He added he had been told it could be up to a week until his workplace was reopened.
Mr Beattie said: "My manager said it would probably take a week or so to reopen it. They have to bring people in to look at the structure and then we can get inside and see what damage has been done."
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said the flames broke out on the ground floor of the shop and have spread to the roof space. Fire crews are using breathing apparatus to get inside the building.
Crews are concerned the blaze will spread through crevices and other hidden spaces inside the old buildings.
Workers in the surrounding buildings have been evacuated, including some on George Street and Rose Street.
As well as eleven fire engines, the service have a height appliance, command support unit and fire investigation unit on the scene.
A firefighter suffered a minor injury to his finger while tackling the blaze.
Lothian and Borders Police have closed parts of Princes Street, George Street and Hanover Street to all traffic and pedestrians. Traffic is being diverted away from the area and drivers are asked to use alternative routes.

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