A FRAIL woman who would take 20 minutes to get downstairs from her third-floor flat near Easter Road stadium has died after a blaze broke out inside her home.
The 50-year-old – named locally as Audrey Johnstone – was pronounced dead at the scene following the fire in Albion Road, Leith at around 7.30am yesterday.
Investigators are still probing the cause of the fire, which saw other residents evacuated from the tenement after smelling smoke.
Ms Johnstone’s partner – named locally as Ian McLeod – also lived at the flat but neighbours said he was away on a golfing holiday in Portugal. It is understood police were trying to inform him of the
Residents said Ms Johnstone would have struggled to escape the fire due to her poor health, which had been made worse in recent years by a broken hip.
Struan Moore, 40, a customer services adviser, lives on the third floor of the block and alerted the fire service after noticing smoke. He said: “I’d just come back from a mate’s house at the back of 7am and could smell smoke when I came into the stairwell. There was a haze of smoke in the air which was coming from the electrical box and a shaft next to the roof.
“I checked my neighbour’s letterboxes to see if I could smell smoke. There was
nothing from Audrey’s flat, maybe because she had a draft excluder to keep out the cold.
“The firefighters got everyone out and outside we could see smoke coming from Audrey’s window.
“We’ve lived here for about 16 years and Audrey was here when we moved in. She was a nice lady but she had a lot of health problems which meant she had a reclusive lifestyle. She broke her hip a few years ago and that made it difficult for her to get about. When she did go outside, it took her about 20 minutes to get downstairs. I think she would have found it difficult to get out in a fire.
“Her common-law husband is in Portugal just now. He goes out there a few times a year on golfing holidays. It will be terrible for him to find out this has happened.”
Firefighters removed a cooker from Ms Johnstone’s flat which was disconnected and put in the stairwell landing. Piles of burnt furniture were piled up in the street outside, including a pair of scorched armchairs.
Steven Blackie, 45, who lives on the second floor. He said: “I smelt smoke coming from the stairwell and went outside to check. I met a neighbour who said he had smelt it too and called the fire brigade.”
Two men in their twenties were treated for the effects of smoke after a fire in a flat at Merchiston Place yesterday. A scented candle is believed to have set curtains alight.