A 15th Century pub has been gutted in a fire which spread through a historic part of Hereford city centre.
More than 100 firefighters were called to the High Town area, where Booth Hall was engulfed in flames.
Police said an electrical fault was believed to have caused the fire, which broke out at about 0425 BST.
Three four-storey buildings containing River Island, Card Factory, Ann Summers and a mobile phone shop were also badly damaged, the fire service said.
The Booth Hall site, which dates back to 1392 and became a pub in the 15th Century, is a separate building.
Twenty fire engines were called to the scene and the area affected measured about 100m by 80m, the fire service said.
The head of policy and education at the chamber of commerce, said the fire was going to have “a major impact” on trading.
He said: “People will avoid the town centre today and this will affect the surrounding businesses who have managed to open.
“The impact in the medium term is unknown at the moment as it will depend on the severity of the fire and how long businesses are required to close.”
The council pledged support to local businesses affected by the fire by helping them to find alternative suitable premises.
The economic development team was scouring the city to identify potential properties for temporary or permanent occupation.
The Minute of Agreement between Historic Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services for the development of The Scottish Historic Buildings National Fire Database (SHBNFD) continues to provide the structure to enable Scotland to remain a world leader in the protection of the built heritage from the devastating effects of fire.
Mike Coull of Grampian Fire and Rescue Service continues to serve in the role of Heritage Co- ordinator for the Scottish Fire Services. This post is considered crucial in not only delivering the key objectives set out in the Minute of Agreement, but also to enable further research developing strategies with the Fire S ervice that will contribute to the protection of the built heritage.
The current Minute of Agreement was signed in October 2007 and sets out a wider set of outcomes to reflect the fact that the SHBNFD is much more than a database, it is a project setting out objectives driving forward the protection of the built heritage. To meet those objectives it was vital to ensure effective partnership working, through this it has been possible to establish protocols with each of the eight Scottish fire and rescue services for the exchange of information on Category B-listed buildings.
This Annual Summary Report aims to demonstrate that significant progress has been made in many of the outcomes identified within the Minute of Agreement over the past twelve months. In addition to the agreed outcomes, two significant tasks have been undertaken; a major International conference on ‘Fire Protection of the Built Heritage’ was held at Elphinstone Hall, Aberdeen on 5th May 2009 and a research project involving a series of fire tests on historic doors. Further details of these two initiatives are included within this report.
ANNUAL REP 09