A PENSIONER and his brother are being treated for facial burns after an attempt at using a sun lamp to heat a tenement flat went horribly wrong.
Gorgie resident Robert McCartney, 78, is believed to have turned on the UV lamp to create extra warmth in his Wheatfield Road home.
The powerful lamp burnt the mens’ faces and eyes and could have been on for a number of hours while the men slept.
A fire source said: “This was a very nasty incident.”
Paramedics were called to the address shortly after 7am yesterday. They reported “fumes” coming from a “heater” in the flat, believed to be the lamp. It was checked and cleared, along with adjacent properties, by firefighters and gas board staff.
Mr McCartney and his 74-year-old brother – who has not been named – had to be rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The pair were due to be kept in over the weekend.
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said the lamp looked to have been left on “for a few hours”.
She said: “The fire service was called to what was first thought to be a gas leak.
“Two elderly gentlemen were taken to hospital and treated for burns to their face and eyes because of misuse of a UV lamp.”
Neighbours today paid tribute to Mr McCartney – a former employee of the city council’s cleansing department.
They described him as “gentlemanly” and “always friendly”, despite persistent health problems.
One neighbour, who asked not be named, said he was shocked at news of the injuries suffered by Mr McCartney and his brother. He said: “I didn’t really know what was happening until this guy came in and wanted to check the carbon monoxide levels in the flat.”
He praised Mr McCartney as a good neighbour who was visited regularly by his younger brother and kept himself to himself. But he said Mr McCartney had struggled with poor health over the years.
He said: “He told me he’s had bronchitis and a heart bypass. It’s not the first time the ambulance has been called out to his flat.”
He added: “He once told me he forgets thing easily. When you’re talking to him, he changes on to another topic very quickly.”
Neighbour Lorna Strachan, 50, said: “I only know him from passing him on the stair but he is a pleasant man – always very well dressed.”
Another neighbour Birt Woloch, 27, said: “He’s a very friendly guy. Although sometimes he would look at me as if he did not know who I was, even though I have lived here for years.”
Welfare charity Age Scotland pointed to the incident as evidence of the “desperate measures” being taken by elderly people to heat their homes amid soaring energy costs.
A spokesman said: “This is a very distressing incident, but with home energy costs soaring it would come as no surprise if older people feel compelled to take desperate measures to save on fuel bills.”
Sun lamps are very powerful and only supposed to be used for short periods of time.