An Aberdeen solicitor has spoken of the “kindness and support” which helped rebuild his legal firm, a year on from a devastating fire that destroyed its office and a restaurant underneath.
Valentino’s Italian – formerly Dizzy’s – on Carden Place was completely destroyed in a dramatic blaze a year ago today, the offices of two legal firms and a property consultants.
Flames could be seen leaping from the roof of the building as smoke billowed into the sky when the blaze broke out at around 2am on December 23 last year.
The building was left in ruins, with legal firm Lefevre Litigation losing everything in the fire.
Liam Mcallister, a partner with the firm, said: “It’s been a lot of hard work but we’ve had a lot of kindness and support from colleagues which has been enormous.
“The kindness and support of other colleagues and local businesses has been key to our recovery.
“We thought that was going to be the biggest event of the year and then within a short space of time we had the coronavirus pandemic and the courts shutting down and all that.
“It’s been a tough year, but I know it’s been a lot harder for so many other people as well. We can’t complain, we’ve been able to just get on with things and be committed to working hard for our clients and to trying to get through it.
“But a lot of folk have been through a lot worse. It’s only bricks and mortar.”
Mr Mcallister said the firm predominantly used paper for its files and documents, and so was badly affected.
He said: “It was complete destruction. We were very much an old-fashioned court firm reliant heavily on paper files and sadly it was a costly lesson.
“Through hard work and with the assistance and kindness of people at court we’ve been able to keep going and rebuild things.
“We were at number 70 Carden Place, we’re now at number 40, we’re about 400 yards down the road so there’s a lot of continuity there which has made things easier.
“There’s the odd issue but by and large we feel like we’re up to full capacity again and kicking on and busy as ever.”
The initial fire broke out two hours after Valentino’s – formerly Dizzy’s – had finished their staff party.
Crews worked throughout the day and night to contain the fire, with smoke from the scene visible from across the city.
Eight fire appliances were sent to the property and more than 40 firefighters battled the blaze at its height before it was eventually declared fully extinguished shortly after 9pm on the same day.
There were no reported casualties.
Investigators later ruled there was “no criminality” involved.