FSB fears impact
Setback to recovery as Harry Potter cafe damaged in blaze
Smoke seen billowing out of the Elephant House cafe
An Edinburgh cafe where JK Rowling reputedly wrote early manuscripts for her Harry Potter books was feared badly damaged in a fire early this morning.
One person was taken to hospital as the blaze caused George IV Bridge to be closed along with several adjacent roads.
Firefighters were called at 6.18am to reports of a fire and smoke at a branch of Patisserie Valerie, next door to the The Elephant House cafe which is famously linked to the Rowling books.
Elephant House owner David Taylor, said the building had not suffered fire damage, but there was smoke and water damage.
He said: “I feel absolutely gutted about this. At best, we can hope for opening in a few weeks time, but if there is structural damage too, then it isn’t bearable to think about.
“We had just got back to some semblance of normality after two years, although we were only running at about 50% of our festival trade.”
The Oz Bar on Candlemaker Row, below Patisserie Valerie, also suffered water damage.
Owner Tom Ponton said: “We have just refurbished the whole pub and we were back to doing very well again after two years, it’s devastating.”
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “Operations Control mobilised nine appliances and two height vehicles to the scene where firefighters are tackling a fire affecting a number of properties.
The Federation of Small Businesses thanked the emergency services for tackling the blaze.
Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses’s policy chairman and owner of a Harry Potter-themed shop in nearby Victoria Street, thanked those who tackled the blaze.
“On behalf of local firms in Edinburgh’s Old Town, I want to extend my thanks to the emergency services who have been working hard since the early hours of this morning,” he said. “It is the hope of all Edinburgh locals that no-one has been seriously hurt in this dreadful incident.
Seat of fire: Patisserie Valerie (pic: Terry Murden)
“While it is too early to talk to the business impact of the fire, FSB stands ready to work with local firms and government at all levels to get this historic area back on its feet.
“It has been a hard 18 months for many Edinburgh businesses and today’s fire will make recovery that much harder.”
The buildings in the area are among the city’s most treasured, dating back mostly to the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign and close to the famous Greyfriars Bobby statue and graveyard, visited by millions of tourists.