Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

ScottishPower apologises for 'devastating' substation fire

Substation Pic: Angie Brown

ScottishPower has apologised for the first ever mechanical failure at an Edinburgh electrical substation which caused a major fire and explosions in the city's Holyrood area.

The "devastating" fire erupted at the £30,000 substation at Slater's Steps, off Holyrood Road, near the Scottish parliament at 12:35 on Thursday.

The plastic box it was encased in caused thick, acrid smoke.

Thousands of people were evacuated from offices and flats in the area.

Terrorist attack

An official at the scene said he had never seen "as devastating a fire at a substation as this".

Some eyewitnesses in the area said they had feared the explosions were a terrorist attack.

A ScottishPower spokesman said: "I understand people thought it was a terrorist attack from the loud noise and smoke and we apologise for the upset that caused.

"I would stress that this has been a highly unusual incident, which has never happened in Edinburgh before.

"We are looking into what happened with urgency to find out the cause of the mechanical failure.

"We are treating this very seriously."

Image caption An aerial view of the substation after the fire

More than 400 homes and businesses including Dynamic Earth lost power during the major incident.

The area was cordoned off for about four hours. There were no reports of any injuries.

People reported hearing about 12 loud explosions and others said it sounded like a building was crashing to the ground.

Eye witnesses said police officers started screaming for people to run out of the area when the explosions started.

A new substation was installed at the site on Friday.

Image caption A new substation was installed at the site on Friday

A car beside the substation which caught fire has now been removed from the site.

Police Scotland said: "A joint investigation is under way between police and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to establish the cause and full circumstances surrounding the fire."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionFire breaks out at electricity sub-station in Edinburgh
Image caption Firefighters tackle the blaze as residents and workers are evacuated
Image copyright Dr Bob MacKintosh
Image caption Thick black smoke could be seen coming from the area

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