OVER 40 fire fighters tackled a blaze yesterday as flames tore through a disused church.
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue were alerted to the fire just after 4.30pm as it engulfed a three-storey church on Edinburgh’s lower London Road.
Five appliances were sent to the scene with heavy smoke and flames been reported across the capital.
The fire service urged people to avoid the scene as they closed off the surrounding streets.
Local residents looked on in shock as the flames took control of the church and ripped through the large roof.
A husband and wife, who did not want to be named, live on the third floor of flats overlooking the fire.
He said: “The flames were huge to begin with but the fire crews have done a great job putting it out.
“I’m surprised the building itself hasn’t collapsed yet though, it looks as if it’s just going to cave. The entire church was just on flames and the smoke has been non-stop since it started.The roof as well disappeared so quickly, the fire just tore through the top.
“There’s not really been anything around here like this before though. I mean, there are kids that hang around there and spray paint the walls but it’s all boarded up from the outside so it looks pretty tough to get in.
He added: “It is the half-term just now though and there has been quite a few kids around the area the past few days. It could have just been the kids messing about but I’m not really sure, I didn’t see anything.”
Another neighbour on the same floor said: “I was just sitting playing the computer when my girlfriend called to tell me to look outside.
“The flames were massive, I got such a shock. There’s been fire fighters here for a couple of hours already, up ladders with hoses trying to put the fire out. I’m surprised the church is still on fire though.
“At least nobody was in it or got hurt. If it was a church in use it could have been so much worse.
He added: “I have no idea how it started though.”
Police advised residents within the flat to move their cars from the forecourt to avoid any damage coming from the buildings and becoming an additional fire hazard.