Lundin Links Hotel: MP says locals faced 'unacceptable danger’ from fire hazard site

A fire that destroyed a centuries old prominent hotel in Fife brought resident’s worst fears to life.
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The derelict Lundin Links Hotel was devastated on Thursday night, and the town’s main road remains sealed off as firefighters continued to tackle the incident on Friday.

It was the third, and most damaging fire, at the hotel, which closed in 2014.

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Peter Aitken, chairman of Largo Area Community Council, which covers Lower Largo, Lundin Links, New Gilston and Woodside, Upper Largo, said: “It’s devastating for the community, but we’ve been expecting this to happen for years. We’ve been warning this would happen.

Lundin Links Hotel, Fife - pictured in 2002Lundin Links Hotel, Fife - pictured in 2002
Lundin Links Hotel, Fife - pictured in 2002

“We’ve had two minor fires before. The alert was raised in time to save the building on both occasions.

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“But we knew that one day the alert wouldn’t be raised in time, and that’s what happened last night. It’s completely destroyed.”

Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife, who has raised concerns about the state of the building, criticised the owners of the former hotel, which she branded a “fire hazard”.

The blaze ripped through Lundin Links Hotel last night (Pic: Fife Jammer)The blaze ripped through Lundin Links Hotel last night (Pic: Fife Jammer)
The blaze ripped through Lundin Links Hotel last night (Pic: Fife Jammer)
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Kapital Residential had planning permission to convert the Category C-listed hotel into 35 flats, but went into liquidation in July with no work having started. The building remained boarded up and behind security fences after Fife Council intervened over safety fears.

Mrs Chamberlain said: “The serious fire was a major escalation of the situation at the site.

“Since the building fell into disrepair, local people had been warning that it was a fire hazard. It was immensely frustrating that the owners took no steps to make it safe and Fife Council had to go to court in order to secure the building.

“These fears have unfortunately proved entirely accurate.

“While we can be thankful that it seems no-one was hurt and the fire did not spread, the local community has been subjected to an unacceptable danger, as well as the disruption associated with responding to the fire.”

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While the clear-up project has yet to begin and the village copes with the disruption, there is anger at how the building was allowed to deteriorate.

“We warned the owners many times that the building was full of flammable material, such as beds, bedding and mattresses,” said Mr Aitken.

“We asked them to get that out, I presume that never happened. The watch commander who came out to the fire six months ago said that if that lot got hold, then it would just go up like a Roman candle. That’s exactly what happened last night.”

The community council also highlighted how poor water pressure hit fire crews’ bid to tackle the blaze.

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Mr Aitken said: “Every time we have had a fire in Lundin Links, the community council has always said to Scottish Water that there is not enough water pressure to deal with fires. The fire brigade confirmed that last night.

“They had to bring in a water tanker, the same size as a petrol tanker – that’s how bad the lack of water was.

“That gives you an indication of the problem the crews faced. The lack of water was a major contributing factor in the destruction of the building.”

He said the issue wasn’t new, and called on the fire service to publish its report and for Scottish Water to take action.

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A spokesman for Scottish Water said: “We work hard to safeguard our network so it copes and continues to provide a consistent water supply.

"For fire-fighting purposes we have a shared Standard Operating Procedure, which allows SFRS to call in our support in order to augment water supply during a firefighting situation.

“We were contacted yesterday evening regarding the fire in Lundin Links and one of our local water engineers attended to assist the fire service.

“We are not aware of an issue with the water pressure supplying customers in Lundin Links and Lower Largo.”

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Residents are also concerned they may have to live with a burned-out shell of a building for months – possibly even longer.

Mr Aitken said: “The liquidator was obviously looking for buyers for the site. Buyers were being asked to buy a derelict hotel and now they are being asked to buy a burnt-out ruin.

“I believe there are some interested parties, so the liquidators need to tell them about the fire and they’ll need to come out and look at the site, and then hopefully they will bid for it.

“It may be that if the front facade is badly damaged, it will be a case of clearing the whole site, which would make it easier to develop.

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“That’s not what the village wanted, but if it’s been destroyed that’s not going to be possible.

“It’s been a landmark in the village, but sadly it looked a derelict landmark for the last few years, and it’s just depressing to see its demise.”