Firefighter in critical condition after fire at former department store: What we know

Firefighter is in critical condition after fire at former department store, Jenners in Edinburgh <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Firefighter is in critical condition after fire at former department store, Jenners in Edinburgh (Image: PA)

A firefighter is in critical condition after being injured battling a blaze at the former department store, Jenners, in Edinburgh.

A total of five firefighters have been hurt while tackling the blaze which crews were called to at 11:29am on Monday, January 23.

The site of the fire was the landmark former department store Jenners, which closed in 2021.

Founded in 1838, the department store was one of the oldest in the world.

Jenners department store fire

Ross Haggart, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s interim chief officer, said: “The fire at the Jenners building in Edinburgh is a very serious and complex incident and regrettably I can confirm that five of our colleagues have been taken to hospital for treatment and one remains in a critical condition.”

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A spokesman for the Fire Brigades Union said it was aware of a number of injuries to firefighters.

“We can confirm that five firefighters have been treated at the scene or at hospital, one of whom is in a serious condition,” the spokesman said.

Witnesses saw one soot-covered firefighter being brought out of the burning building by two of their colleagues.

Elena Whitham, Scotland’s community safety minister, said her thoughts were with the firefighters and their families.

“Their sheer bravery and professionalism must be commended,” she said.

“Scotland’s communities are lucky to have our valued firefighters who stand ready to put their personal safety at risk in order to save others. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

After the fire started emergency services shut roads around the building, from which flames were seen coming out of the ground floor.

A total of 22 appliances and other specialist resources were sent to the scene at the fire’s height.

Marks and Spencer and the Mercure Hotel, on Princes Street, were closed as firefighters worked in the neighbouring former department store, and other buildings in the area were evacuated.

“I work at one of the businesses nearby and I nipped out for lunch and tried to get in but we have been evacuated,” one worker said.

“I was aware of the sirens and it was one of my team that said Jenners was on fire.

HeraldScotland: Firefighter in critical condition after blaze at former department store
HeraldScotland: Firefighter in critical condition after blaze at former department store

Firefighter in critical condition after blaze at former department store (Image: PA)

“The building’s beautiful. It’s such a beautiful piece of architecture, it’s such a shame, especially with it shutting down and lying kind of empty.”

Having seen the start of the blaze from Princes Street, Alan Potts, 64, said: “Obviously, the tour buses go up this street, and we thought the fire was originally in Sainsbury’s, but it was Jenners which they’re working in.

“There was about five or six fire engines all appeared at the same time.

“There was just heavy smoke, I didn’t see any flames at any point.

“Lots of ambulances about, which makes us think there might have been someone inside but never saw anyone coming out.”

City of Edinburgh Council leader Cammy Day praised firefighters for their “speedy and brave response”.

“It’s so sad to see a fire at one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings,” he said.

“Council officers remain on the scene and are supporting the emergency services and those affected by the fire.”The A-listed current building dates to 1895, after a fire destroyed the original.

Renovations are ongoing to transform it into a hotel, backed by a firm owned by fashion billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen.

A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said: “HSE is aware of this incident and liaising with the emergency services.”