POLICE are investigating a suspicious blaze which saw thousands of pounds worth of damage to market stalls in a city centre square.
The blaze broke out in the early hours of Friday morning in Parliament Square and damaged a total of seven stalls.
Stallholders, who rely heavily on the profits generated during the Festival, estimate that more than £3500 worth of damage was caused.
Decorative artist, Jane Edgell, 52, who has run the After the Fall T-shirt stall in Parliament Square for the past seven years, lost more than £500 worth of stock.
She said: “I lost a lot of my hanging stock plus mannequins and other items. Each year I collect 60 per cent of my annual earnings during Festival week so this has hit me quite hard.
“Fringe staff rang me to say the stall had been set alight at 2.30am. I really couldn’t believe it. To be fair we have all been told not to leave anything in the stalls overnight but you don’t expect this to happen.
“I think it’s been some kids messing around or someone drunk flicking a cigarette. I wouldn’t think it’s anyone with a personal grievance, at least I’d hope not.”
Other stalls affected cover a host of crafts such as jewellery making, painting, felt work and puppet-making.
Traders wishing to operate a stall for the duration of the Festival must first pay Fringe organisers a fee of £1498 plus VAT.
The Fringe has organised arts and crafts markets at Parliament Square and The Mound for the past 13 years and organisers had replacement stalls in place within hours.
A member of the public initially raised the alarm shortly after 2am and the fire service raced to the scene and extinguished the blaze.
Police are now investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “The area was busy with pedestrians at the time the fire broke out, and we are appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time, who noticed any suspicious activity in the area of the stalls, to contact us.
“Anyone else who has any other information that can assist our inquiries should also get in touch.”
Those with any information should contact Lothian and Borders Police on 0131-311 3131, or Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555 111.