Major Glasgow fire under control but asbestos warning issued
23 March 2018, 07:20
A major fire which took hold of a building in Glasgow city centre has been contained but an asbestos warning has been issued to local residents and businesses.
More than 120 firefighters dealt with the incident on the busy shopping thoroughfare of Sauchiehall Street which started in the roof of the building which houses Victoria's nightclub at about 8.20am on Thursday.
Chief Fire Officer Alasdair Hay said the blaze was one of the biggest the single service has had to deal with.
"It's an incredibly complex fire in hazardous conditions and I want to praise the firefighters for their professionalism in the way they are dealing with this incident," he said.
"Itis one of the biggest incidents we've had in the Scottish Fire and Rescue service since its inception."
Thick smoke billowed across the pedestrian precinct with fears the fire could spread to nearby buildings including the historic Pavilion Theatre.
No one was injured in the incident and the fire was contained but shows at the Pavillion and nearby Theatre Royal have been cancelled with firefighters expected to remain at the scene for a few days.
Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay said: "This is an extremely challenging incident but the response and professionalism of our firefighters has been outstanding.
"We would urge the occupants of surrounding buildings to remain indoors and keep their windows closed due to the suspected presence of asbestos."
Firefighters cooled the outside walls of the Pavillion to prevent the spread of the fire.
A spokesman for the Pavillion said: "The fire did not spread to the theatre and 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 to."
Thursday's comedy show with Jonathan Pie at the Pavillion was cancelled while Scottish Opera said its performance of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Theatre Royal Glasgow also had to be called off.
General director Alex Reedijk said: "Unfortunately, the theatre sits directly downwind from the nearby fire on Sauchiehall Street and has been affected by smoke.
"It is going to take some time for this to clear from the building and ensure that it is comfortable for our audiences and performers. We are, of course, very sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience this causes our audience members."
The fire was raised at First Minister's Questions in Holyrood with Nicola Sturgeon describing it as "extremely serious".
She later tweeted: "Just chaired a meeting of @scotgov resilience group to be updated on current situation with Sauchiehall Street fire.
"This remains a serious ongoing incident and my sincere thanks go to @fire_scot and other emergency services for their heroic work."