Around 70 firefighters fought an early hours blaze which gutted a charity shop in South Queensferry High Street this morning.
Nobody has been hurt in the emergency, which wrecked the Deaf Action shop at 31 High Street and also damaged the adjacent Deans Properties office.
The High Street has been closed by police and fire engines are still on site as fire investigation officers try to assess the cause of the fire, which began in the basement.
Local shops are now struggling to resume normal business on what would normally be one of their busiest weekends of the year.
The alarm was sounded at 5.17am when an alert member of the public saw smoke issuing from the building and called the emergency services by mobile phone.
Eight appliances and crew from South Queensferry, Edinburgh, Dunfermline and Bo’ness converged on the area,where it was soon found the fire had spread through the ground floor to the first floor and into the roof space.
Eight firefighters with breathing apparatus tackled the fire in the upper part of the building, and the blaze had been brought largely under control shortly after 7am.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service group manager David Mackie told the Journal and Gazette that the crews on the spot had done well to contain a potentially far more serious emergency.
“There are various ways in and out of the building, which used to form part of the same property as Deans Properties next door,” he said.
“The two are really the same building separated only by lathe and plaster, so there was damage in Deans Properties too – but there was nobody in the building.”
Firefighters faced a challenge in tight spaces as the fire had spread up a stairway to reach the roof space by the time they were on the scene.
Mr Mackie said the structure of the building hadn’t been affected, but if the blaze behind its walls had not been checked when it was it could have swept into neighbouring properties.
This would have meant emergency evacuation of residents and the likelihood of homes and businesses being badly damaged or destroyed.
It isn’t currently known how the fire began, but there are thought to be no suspicious circumstances.