The Reiver’s Fish Bar in Duns was virtually destroyed by a fire on Tuesday, resulting in nearby buildings being evacuated and power cuts for nearby residents.
More than 20 firefighters from across the Borders and East Lothian attended the fire in Black Bull Street, and they were there for 10 hours, dampening down hot spots once the blaze had been extinguished.
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We received a call at 11.17am to a well-developed fire in the building.
“Appliances from Coldstream, Eyemouth and Kelso were on scene using high-pressure hose-reels to put out the fire.
“Crews were on scene until 9.15pm dampening down hot spots.
“The appliance from Duns was used, along with various appliances across the Borders and East Lothian throughout the day.
Duns fire engine is housed just yards away from the fish-and-chip shop that caught fire but did not attend initially.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service did not explain why it was not in attendance first, but rumours in the town suggest that it was because there was no driver available within the retained crew.
The Black Bull Hotel was evacuated, and both Black Bull Street and Newtown Street in Duns were closed for hours while the fire service dealt with the blaze and its aftermath.
The fire blew a couple of Scottish Power fuse boxes, and the power company confirmed that 35 properties in Duns lost their electricity.
Several hours after the fire, a spokesperson for Scottish Power said: “The fire brigade aren’t allowing us access to the fuse boxes until the fire is out, so there is very little we can do.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
An onlooker reported: “The attached building’s roof seems to have also caught fire.
“Lots of slates were removed near the gable end and, no doubt, a lot of water hosed in there.”
The owners of the Reiver’s Fish Bar, Andrew and Rhona Mitchell, were too upset to talk about the fire and the future of the business.
All three Berwickshire fire stations – Duns, Coldstream and Eyemouth – are unmanned, and cover is provided by retained crews.
Appointing retained firefighters has been proving increasingly difficult in recent years, and in 2014 Berwickshire councillors were told that the Duns station had only 50% of the required number, with only six retained firefighters based there.
By last year, a recruitment process had improved the situation, but it is believed that the Duns crew is still not up to the optimum number.