THE outbreak of fire at the Grandfare supermarket in Glasgow’s Cowcaddens Street was first noticed at 9.45am on Friday, September 16, 1966, when members of staff saw smoke in the basement. Everyone was quickly evacuated before the blaze could spread.

At its height, windows were shattered in the intense heat and slabs of masonry fell to the ground, forcing a number of firemen to leap to safety. As the flames leapt 50 feet above the building, a fire tender was struck by falling masonry. The thick pall of smoke could be seen for miles around. The premises of the Northern division of Glasgow City Police offices, immediately behind the supermarket, had to be vacated. Fears were voiced that the building might collapse and fracture the roof of the Underground tunnel.

The firefighting operation involved more 100 firemen using 16 tenders, four turntable ladders and the latest type of “bubblebath” foam apparatus. Glasgow Salvage Corps said it was “one of the biggest and most extensive in the city in recent years.”

An all-night watch was kept on the building as it was in danger of collapsing; and as dawn broke, firefighters, using searchlights, were still pouring water onto the burnt-out shell.

On the Saturday morning, as demolition workers moved in, watched by a crowd of people, small fires were still burning, here and there.