Man admits starting fire by dropping lit cigarette

Firefighters survey the wreckage in Tarvit Street
Firefighters survey the wreckage in Tarvit Street
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A FIRESTARTER sparked a blaze which blocked an escape route for 15 residents who had to be rescued from their flats.

Thomas Ferrier, 21, admitted starting the fire in Tollcross, which left a man with a fractured spine after he leapt from a third-floor window.

Nine people were treated in hospital, including two pregnant women and the accused, after the Tarvit Street blaze last year.

The blaze started after Ferrier, who had been attending a party at the tenement block, went to investigate damage caused by an electrical fire downstairs on the ground floor the previous night.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard he threw away a lit cigarette “by flicking it through into the kitchen area” of the flat, only for it to ignite a pile of rubbish. He then ran upstairs to the scene of the party and began banging on the door and shouting at his friends to raise the alarm.

Ferrier, of Eskview Grove, Dalkeith, yesterday pleaded guilty, while acting with another, to culpably and recklessly setting fire to a ground floor flat in Tarvit Street in the Tollcross area on November 11 last year and endangering the health and lives of the 
residents.

At the time, a neighbour told how she had seen people in tears after the rescue.

Tiina Kipari told the Evening News: “I saw people being lifted down a big ladder. One woman was being carried down by firemen and then three men. I saw some people crying in the street.”

Fiscal Depute, John Kirk, said that at about 2am residents returning home saw two men they didn’t recognise, one of whom was Ferrier, in the common stair.

A short time later, they were wakened by banging and shouting and became aware of thick black smoke filling the stairwell. The smoke was coming from the ground floor, which meant they couldn’t escape from the block. Mr Kirk said it was fortunate that Tollcross Fire Station was only 200 metres away “as the crow flies”.

Using a turntable ladder and other ladders, firefighters rescued occupants of the flats, except for one man who was so frightened that he jumped from a third-floor window, seriously fracturing his back.

The other eight people taken to hospital were suffering from smoke inhalation.

Defence solicitor Cheryl Beattie told Sheriff William Holligan that her client had been on a night out and “alcohol had been taken”. Sheriff Holligan deferred sentence until next month for reports.