Gorgie flat fire: Victims ‘lucky to be alive’

Westfield Road, where the fire was started in a stairwell cupboard. Picture: Jon Savage

Westfield Road, where the fire was started in a stairwell cupboard. Picture: Jon Savage

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RESIDENTS in a tenement block said they were “glad to be alive” after a fireraiser started a blaze in their common stair.

The fire was lit in a cupboard on the ground floor of the building in Westfield Road, Gorgie in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Thick smoke soon filled the stairwell, leaving some terrified residents trapped in their homes until they could be rescued by firefighters.

A number of residents were forced to put their heads out of flat windows to breathe while waiting to be taken to safety by the fire service.

Three women and a man were transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for treatment for smoke inhalation, but all were discharged later that morning.

The tenement’s front door has been broken for several months, allowing the suspected firestarter to gain access. Police said they believed the fire had been started deliberately and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.

One resident, who asked not to be named, was taken to the ERI along with two friends. She said: “We’re just glad to be alive. The smoke was very thick so you couldn’t see anything. We managed to get downstairs but other people had to be helped by firefighters. We were taken to hospital but released after about an hour.”

Another resident said: “I was woken up by a noise. The smoke never really got inside my flat but when I went outside it was thick. The smoke was obviously going upwards so the people in the upper flats had more difficulty getting out.

“Some of them had to open their windows and stick their heads out. Most people got out themselves but firefighters came up and got everyone else to safety.”

She added: “The front door has been broken for a while so anybody can come in. I can’t think of any reason why we were targeted. We’ve not had any problems in the stair.”

The fire service was alerted to the blaze at 12.31am yesterday, and crews from Sighthill and Tollcross attended the scene.

A fire service spokeswoman said: “We attended a fire on Westfield Road which had started in a cupboard in a common stair. We received the stop message at 1.04am, with the last appliance leaving at 1.58am.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Fortunately, no-one was seriously injured as a result of this incident and officers are now conducting local inquiries to identify whoever was responsible for starting the fire.

“Anyone who remembers seeing anything suspicious in the Westfield Road area in the early hours of Sunday morning should contact police immediately.”