Page last updated at 01:06 GMT, Saturday, 20 December 2008

Fire crews fight Edinburgh blazes

Victoria Street fire [Pic: Roxana Pope]
Flames shot about 20ft into the air above Khushis restaurant

Hundreds of people had to be evacuated from Edinburgh city centre when fire crews were called to tackle a major blaze at a restaurant.

One witness said 20ft flames were coming from the roof of the building on Victoria Street.

Crews were also called to tackle fires at a bar in nearby Frederick Street and a sheltered housing complex.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said the scene was "chaotic" but with no reports of injuries.

The alarm was raised at about 2010 BST on Friday when the first fire was reported in Victoria Street.

Witnesses said that flames were coming from the roof of the Khushis Indian restaurant.

There were also blazes at a hairdressers in Frederick Street and at a sheltered housing complex in Moredun Park Street.

Victoria Street was cordoned off while fire crews brought the restaurant blaze in under control.

I was coughing and choking from the smoke just walking past, and there was water pouring down the street
James O'Brien

Eyewitness James O'Brien, 28, told the BBC Scotland News website that flames had been shooting about 20ft out of the roof of Khushis. The building also houses the Liquid Room nightclub.

"There were apartments with their lights on which had all been evacuated," he said.

"Everyone was standing around outside talking on their mobile phones and saying how they could not believe what had happened.

"There is an ambulance special operations unit at the scene, a police incident van and lots of police officers and firefighters.

"I was coughing and choking from the smoke just walking past, and there was water pouring down the street from the hoses that the fire crews were using."

Victoria Street fire [Pic: Rupert Bright]
Hundreds of people had to be evacuated from the area

Medical student Rupert Bright, 24, said he was first alerted by the smell of burning.

"I looked out of the window and saw the roof of the building on fire. The flames were lighting up the sky," he said.

"I went outside and there were several hundred people being kept away from the area by police - many of them were from the restaurants on the road. It was pretty hectic."

Mr Bright said the the main section of the roof had collapsed and firefighters were on raised platforms spraying water on the front of the building.

John Dickie, from Lothian Fire and Rescue Service, said the fires put the service at full stretch.

"It did push us at a particular time. We had seven pumping appliances at one, five pumping appliances at another and while those two incidents were ongoing we had other minor incidents throughout the area as well."

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service described all three fires as "major".

Diners were evacuated but it was not known how many people had been inside at the time.

"It has been chaotic, but we have pulled out all our resources. Very, very thankfully, there appear to have been no injuries," she said.

Ambulance staff confirmed they had vehicles at the scene, but said no-one had been taken to hospital.

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