GLASGOW stood still as it watched smoke pump into the air and flames shoot into the sky above one of the city’s most iconic streets.

What had started as a seemingly small shop fire soon grew into a massive inferno prompting more than 100 firefighters from all over the country to race to the scene.

The alarm - to what chief officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Ser vice, Alasdair Hay, would later describe as “one of the largest incidents the SFRS has faced” - was raised around 8.18am on the Thursday morning.

Just 40 minutes later, residents were warned to stay indoors with their windows closed as fears of asbestos began to circulate.

As the day went on the cordon began to grow, stretching as far as the Evening Times office on Renfield Street.

Flames wiped out the New Palace Restaurant, Victoria’s Nightclub, The Works and Holland & Barratt.

But, almost immediately, firefighters confirmed one of their top priorities was to ensure the safety of the historic Pavilion Theatre which, at one point, looked as though it would too become a victim of the blaze.

Recalling the terrifying day, the venue’s manager Iain Gordon said: “I was going along the Kingston Bridge, I had had a phone call to say Victoria’s was on fire about 9.40am, and you could see the smoke.

“By the time I got [to the theatre] about 10am, flames were shooting out everywhere.

“I stood watching it at the lane at Walkabout and the flames were touching our building at one time.

EXCLUSIVE: Blaze may NOT have started in Victoria's nightclub

“We’re an older building so it would not need much for it to go up in. In fact, when we did get in there was a lot of ash and embers – we were really lucky it didn’t go on fire from the stuff that had come in.”

He added: “The Pavilion has that place in everyone’s heart, everyone has been here at one time or another in Glasgow.

“Firefighters have got a real, tremendous respect for older buildings like that.

“Whoever you are, whatever you are you kind of want to save buildings like this so it was really positive to have firefighters react that way.

“It was a saving grace really, because it was very close. “

Despite managing to save the historic building, which opened as the Pavilion Theatre of Varieties in February 1904, much of Sauchiehall Street’s incredible history was lost when the Victoria’s building was destroyed.

READ MORE: Glasgow workers tell of fear trapped inside cordon

Once known as the Salon, 90 Sauchiehall Street was built as a cinema and opened in June 1913.

It was one of Glasgow’s earliest and most historic cinemas with a Winter Garden and Tea Lounge.

Despite changing hands over the years – becoming a casino and a various nightclubs – the building had retained unusual and historic features from a century ago.

However, it wasn’t just the history of the street which suffered the effects of the devastating fight.

Dozens of businesses, including the beloved Lauder’s pub, struggled to get back on their feet with the cordon remaining in place until August 3.

The building suffered significant water ingress and damp, meaning a complete new kitchen and interior is needed before the doors can open to the public.

While Hotspot Mobile also found itself in turmoil.

Owner Jamie O’Neil said: “The fire gave businesses minutes to pack up and leave.

READ MORE: Timeline of events of massive city centre fire

“It was scary how quickly the fire spread and you could clearly see that this was a major operation for the Fire services to deal with.

“I stood at the edge of the cordon ... I couldn’t go home because I had to wait until I could go back to the shop, close off the electricity and secure the place.

“I managed to open for a few hours the next day, when it became obvious that it would take some time for the street to recover. “

He added: “Our trade dropped dramatically.

“There were no proper diversions to direct people to the part of the street still operating.

“Older customers couldn’t get into the area easy and stopped coming. People didn’t know we were still open. And, the opposite end, there were still roadworks and diversions due to the Avenues project. We were boxed in. “

Glasgow City Council battled to support the dozens of businesses in need and organise a clean up, not knowing in just three months time they’d be starting to the process over again at the other side of the street.

A spokesman said: “[The council’s] role during the initial emergency phase largely involves supporting the lead agencies. For example, the blue light services may look for assistance formalising road closures and diversions ... The council’s building control and economic development teams were deeply involved in the response to the fires in Sauchiehall Street in 2018, engaging with businesses and residents from the earliest stages, as well as the relevant organisations

“... In response to the fires, a dedicated business support team - headed by two Economic Development managers and supported by a team of business advisors - were based in Sauchiehall Street, providing support and advice to impacted business within and in the vicinity of both cordons, as well as supporting the administration of the SG Fire Recovery Fund.”

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