Glasgow & West Scotland

Pavilion Theatre saved after 'inferno' in Glasgow nightclub block

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Media captionFire in Glasgow city centre

A fire chief has said saving one of Glasgow's most-loved buildings was a priority when tackling a major blaze in Sauchiehall Street.

Fire crews say the blaze, in Victoria's nightclub in Sauchiehall Street, is now contained after a "really complicated" operation.

The fire has been described as "an inferno" by the crews fighting it.

One of their first priorities was stopping the fire spreading to the 114-year-old Pavilion Theatre.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay said: "It was a really complicated fire with an extensive fire spread, spreading across a number of older tenement-style buildings.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption An aerial view from the Police Scotland helicopter shows how close the fire was to the Pavilion

"I am delighted to say we have managed to contain it within the block that was affected and more importantly we have managed to protect and save some iconic premises round about, most notably the Pavilion Theatre.

"I can't tell you how relieved I am no-one was injured."

The alarm was raised at about 08:20 on Thursday morning and the first crews were praised for their quick response.

Image caption Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay is relieved there were no casualties

ACO Ramsay said: "The first crews did a great job. They got into the premises as quickly as they could but it was an inferno.

"It was like a blowtorch, and they were beaten back by the heat and the flames and a really rapid spread."

He said the fire crews had to come out of the building quickly before undertaking "some really aggressive firefighting".

"I had concerns the fire would spread and that was high up in my priorities," ACO Ramsay. "We took steps to ensure that didn't happen and we have now stopped the fire in the building of origin."

Image copyright Jim Moore
Image caption Flames were visible from neighbouring streets

More than 20 fire appliances, including specialist high reach appliances and a heavy rescue vehicle were involved, with many of the firefighters wearing breathing apparatus.

This was partly because of the presence of asbestos, as is common in many older buildings.

Residents were evacuated from nearby buildings and police and fire services have warned those in the vicinity to keep windows closed while there is still smoke in the air.

The Pavilion Theatre has cancelled its scheduled show on Thursday night.

A spokesman for the Pavilion said the fire did not spread to the theatre but there may still be damage which staff have not yet been able to assess.

"We hope that the only damage we have will be smoke-related and to the front doors, which the fire service had to force entry into," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA

Earlier, general manager Iain Gordon said the smoke had gone right into the side of the building.

"The building has been there for a long time and is a major part of Glasgow," he said.

Scottish Opera have cancelled this evening's performance of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Theatre Royal.

The theatre sits directly downwind from the fire and has been affected by smoke.

City centre streets were sealed off after the alarm was raised, with Hope Street closed to all traffic between Bath Street and Renfrew Street.

Renfield Street was also closed between Renfrew Street and Bath Street.

Image copyright PA
Image copyright PA

Police have confirmed there were no fatalities.

An eyewitness who works nearby told the BBC: "We were in the offices above Starbucks and we saw smoke starting to build.

"The smoke was coming into our building and it seemed to be a more serious situation, stinging our eyes and getting heavier and heavier. So we evacuated."

Image copyright PA

A local office worker told the BBC: "We saw a small bit of smoke and it got worse with the flames shooting out the top of the building. It looked like the roof of the second floor of Victoria's nightclub."

Her colleague added: "The full row of windows on the second floor was on fire and the smoke was pouring out the roof."

Image copyright Gordy Porter
Image caption Smoke from the fire can be seen across the city
Image caption Smoke filled much of Sauchiehall Street

The incident was raised at First Minister's Questions, with Glasgow MSP Sandra White asking what assistance could be given to the emergency services, businesses and residents affected.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was a "deeply concerning" incident. She added: "The Scottish government's resilience unit will remain in contact with the fire services as this incident develops and I will be kept updated in the course of the day.

"But I am sure the whole chamber will want to convey our thoughts to everybody who is affected by what appears to be an extremely serious incident."

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said the whole building appeared to be affected, from the ground floor to the roof.

They expect to have crews at the scene for several days.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Crowds watch as firefighters try to get on top of the blaze

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