Alifa ended up in A&E because of blaze thugs

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A FATHER has spoken of his panic after fireraising thugs put his 15-month-old daughter in hospital.

Little Alifa Islam needed an oxygen mask and an ambulance journey to accident and emergency after a fire was started deliberately in the stairwell of the family’s flat in Leith.

Aminul, 42, said everyone was fast asleep at 4.30am yesterday when they were woken by a neighbour’s cry for help.

The fire attack is the second in as many months in Leith to put the life of a toddler at risk.

In December, just over a mile away, a car was set on fire next to flats, leaving an 18-month-old suffering from smoke inhalation.

Mr Islam, a restaurant worker, spoke minutes after returning from Edinburgh’s Sick Kids hospital with the toddler.

He said: “We were asleep last night when a neighbour came and banged on our door, shouting ‘help, help, there’s a fire!’”

“My daughter sleeps in another room. I went and grabbed her and put on any clothes I could.”

Mr Islam and his wife, Shahanajaktes, ran into the stairwell with his daughter but thick smoke and flames prevented him from reaching the front door.

He said: “I took her outside myself and I tried to go past the fire. I couldn’t see anything because of the smoke.”

“We stayed in my neighbour’s room until the fire brigade cleared everything away.”

He added: “She only breathed the smoke for five or six minutes, but they took her to hospital in an ambulance. She had to wear a breathing mask over her face.

“Alifa is alright but she’s a bit afraid to go outside now. I’m just glad my daughter is okay.”

A Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman confirmed the fire had been started by rubbish that had been set alight and advised anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to stay indoors and call the emergency services.

She said: “None of the properties in the building in this fire were damaged but residents were contacted and reassured by firefighters as operations to fight the fire and vent the stair took place.”

“Stair fires can be extremely frightening for those in the affected building.

“If a fire does start in the stairwell or hall of your block of flats, stay inside your flat in the room furthest from your front door and call the fire and rescue service, letting them know you are still inside. Trained control room staff will provide you with fire survival guidance until firefighters arrive at the scene.

“A fire in the stairwell can spread very quickly, and can cause thick, acrid smoke when rubbish is set alight.

“We would urge residents to ensure that the main door to their common stair is always kept locked, and stairs should be kept clear of rubbish and flammable items which can be attractive to firesetters.”

A Lothian and Borders Police spokeswoman said: “The fire is being treated as suspicious. We would appeal for anyone with any information to come forward.”

Referring to the December incident, which happened just 20 metres from Hibs’ Easter Road ground, she added: “There’s nothing to suggest the two incidents are linked but we are keeping an open mind.”

news_en@edinburghnews.com