Edinburgh fire: Police probe substation blaze after homes and businesses evacuated

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Fire breaks out at electricity sub-station in Edinburgh

Police are investigating the cause of a fire which saw hundreds of people evacuated from properties in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh.

An electrical substation caught fire at 12:35 at Slater's Steps, off Holyrood Road, near the Scottish parliament.

There were no reported casualties, but thick black plumes of smoke and the sound of explosions caused alarm before fire crews dealt with the blaze.

Officers do not believe there were any suspicious circumstances.

Police Scotland said: "Officers attended and local road closures were put in place whilst fire crews worked at the scene.

"Neighbouring properties were evacuated as a precaution and there were no reports of any injuries.

"A joint investigation is under way between police and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to establish the cause and full circumstances surrounding the fire."

Anna Grant, 39, was at work in nearby Jacksons Entry when she saw black smoke billowing outside her office window.

She said: "I was concerned and could smell plastic, so I went outside and could see places being cordoned off and fire engines and police arriving.

"I suddenly heard multiple explosions or banging noises, repetitive noises that were loud and echoing down the closes.

"The police started yelling at us to run down the road and clear the area. I was quite scared, especially as the Queen is in town and we are right beside the parliament and the [Holyrood] Palace. I'm still shaking."

Image source, Dr Bob MacKintosh
Image caption,
Thick black smoke could be seen coming from the area
Image caption,
The aftermath of the blaze

The Queen was visiting Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh on Thursday as part of a week-long stay in the capital.

Craig O'Neill, 24, was in the Holyrood Hotel having lunch at the time of the incident.

"All of a sudden the police were screaming at everyone to move down the road," he said.

"People were running and looking very scared; I've never seen anything like it."

Evelyn Taylor, 40, and Vanessa Bain, 50, were celebrating their birthdays with a spa day when they were ushered out of the Holyrood Hotel.

Ms Taylor said: "I was having afternoon tea in my swimsuit and dressing gown as I had been in the pool when the smoke was piling past the window and we had to shut the windows and doors.

"I was told it was a potential terrorist attack and not to panic but to leave the building immediately.

"We were freezing outside but after a while we were ushered to a car park for shelter. I won't forget my birthday spa day."

'Like fireworks going off next to me'

Diane Korre, 32, who lives in nearby Gentles Entry, was in the shower when she heard "loud bangs".

"I thought they were doing work in the area because the lights started flickering," she said.

"I got out the shower and that's when the bangs got loud and more frequent.

"I was very scared. It was like fireworks going off next to me. I could smell plastic.

"Police banged on my door and evacuated me immediately."

Dynamic Earth, a major visitor attraction nearby, was one of many buildings in the area to suffer a power cut before it was evacuated.

Darcey Roscoe, 7, and Eilidh McNeil, 8, said: "Suddenly it just went black. We couldn't see anything and it was very scary.

"We all held hands and someone with a mobile phone switched their light and that's how we could see. It was horrible. We couldn't even see fire exits. It was pitch black."