Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Fire at Edinburgh's St Paul's Church treated as suspicious

Fire at St Paul's Church Image copyright Stuarty B
Image caption Emergency services were called to the vacant St Paul's on Muirhouse Avenue at about 21:30 on Sunday night

A large fire at a church in Edinburgh is being treated as suspicious.

Emergency services were called to the vacant St Paul's on Muirhouse Avenue at about 21:30 on Sunday night.

At its height, about 20 firefighters were battling the flames. No one was injured.

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Media captionAround 20 firefighters battled the blaze at its height

A police cordon was set up and Pennywell Road was closed as investigations into the cause got under way. Anyone with information is being asked to contact police.

John Hanlin, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Crews were faced with a well-developed fire on arrival.

"The initial firefighting efforts were by teams using breathing apparatus and a line of hose which helped prevent further fire spread.

"We used the two height appliances for water towers to tackle the fire externally and managed to bring it under control.

"The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. A joint investigation by police and specialist fire investigators has been arranged and will take place today."

Police want to speak to a number of youths in connection with the incident, who are believed to have been loitering near the building less than an hour before the fire started.

Pennywell Road and Muirhouse Avenue were temporarily closed but have now reopened.

A part of the pavement on Muirhouse Avenue will remain cordoned off until the safety of the building has been investigated.

Image caption No one was injured in the fire St Paul's on Muirhouse Avenue

Insp Alan Carson, of Police Scotland, said: "This was an appalling attack on a religious building which, despite its closure, was still of importance to the local community in Muirhouse. It was a reckless act which could well have resulted in serious injury or worse.

"We are eager to talk to anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious around the church on Sunday night.

"We are particularly keen to trace a group of youths who were seen near the church less than an hour before the fire was reported. Tracing these young people would significantly help us with our enquiries."

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