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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 12:27 GMT
Blaze site reopens early
Firefighters tackling the blaze
The blaze broke out in December
An area of Edinburgh badly damaged by fire more than three months ago has reopened ahead of schedule.

December's blaze in the Scottish capital's historic Old Town caused millions of pounds worth of damage.

The Cowgate had been shut off since the fire, which has been described as the worst in living memory in the city.

The area, which is popular with clubbers and pub-goers, reopened to traffic and pedestrians on Monday.

'No easy task'

Edinburgh City Council leader Councillor Donald Anderson said: "We had initially hoped to have the Cowgate area opened by Easter and I'm delighted that we've surpassed all expectations.

"Making this fire-ravaged site safe has been no easy task and credit should go to all those who have worked long and hard to make it happen.

"The future of this site is one we all await with anticipation and I hope the owners continue to work together to fill this space with something suitably fitting."

The Cowgate
A number of buildings in the Cowgate were damaged
The fire destroyed more than a dozen properties, including the Gilded Balloon comedy club.

No-one was injured in the blaze, but 150 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Fire investigators believe the blaze started in a converted lift shaft between the Living Room and Club Loca pubs.

Last month Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade said faulty wiring was the "most likely cause".

However, it stressed that its team had not been able to carry out a full investigation as the ferocity of the fire left most of the buildings too unsafe to examine thoroughly.

Edinburgh City Council said that the demolition of damaged buildings had been completed, although some work to remove loose masonry and weatherproof the remaining structures was continuing.

Wiring 'cause' of city blaze
20 Feb 03 |  Scotland
Digging among city ruins
20 Feb 03 |  Scotland
Demolition begins after fire
11 Dec 02 |  Scotland
In pictures: City's fire aftermath
09 Dec 02 |  Scotland

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