A TEENAGE workman has been left seriously injured after his clothes caught fire following an explosion in the city centre.
The incident took place on a Robert McAlpine building site at Hope Street Lane shortly before 2.30pm, with witnesses describing workmates rolling the man around on the ground to extinguish the blaze.
Paramedics and firefighters raced to the scene and a 19-year-old male who had suffered burns to his hands and forearms was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
The exact details remain unclear, with some suggestions that the fire was caused by an electrical fault while others believed it had been set off by a blowtorch.
One worker, who did not wish to give his name, said: “I saw a guy on fire. He was pushed to the ground and rolled to put it out. Then an ambulance came and took him away. It looked quite bad to me.”
Another worker leaving the site said: “There was a gas explosion and one of the guys has been taken to hospital. I don’t know how badly he was hurt.”
Other workers also reported hearing a blowtorch had been involved in the incident, with one man who did not wish to give his name saying that he thought the incident had been caused by a gas leak.
A spokeswoman for the fire service said: “We were called to attend a small fire within an external facing on the ground floor.
“It was extinguished prior to our arrival by workers on the site using two fire extinguishers.”
Many of those working in the area expressed shock.
Daniel Marks, 24, who works behind the bar at Shandwick’s, said: “I didn’t even realise anything had happened until I saw the ambulance and all the fire engines. Then I saw a guy being put in the back of the ambulance and taken away.”
Another woman who did not wish to be named said: “We work on the third floor of a building overlooking the lane and we saw the fire engines and ambulances outside, but we can’t actually see down into the lane itself. There were about 20 of the other workers standing on the scaffolding just staring down into the lane as it was all going on.”
Others said they had not heard the explosion.
One woman said: “We’ve been hearing banging all day but with so many building sites round here at the moment between the trams and everything else we didn’t really think anything of it.”
There are several construction sites in the area, including the £1 million development turning 9 Charlotte Square into the head office of fledgling lender Scoban.