Peace of mind for Cheryl as alarm fitted

Cheryl Douglas inside her Musselburgh flat
Cheryl Douglas inside her Musselburgh flat
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A WOMAN who was left disabled by a fire and had her smoke alarms removed by council contractors has thanked firefighters for fitting a replacement device in her home.

Mother-of-three Cheryl Douglas was left with burns over 75 per cent of her body in the fire which killed her parents more than 20 years ago, and still struggles to walk without pain.

The 37-year-old, who lives in fear of another fire, said she was left terrified after a contract company working for East Lothian Council removed the smoke alarms from her ground floor flat in Musselburgh for a routine check in August, and failed to replace them.

Adding to her fears, Mrs Douglas said neighbours in her building stored equipment including a petrol lawn mower and a can of petrol.

After reading the story in the Evening News, Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service came to her rescue last Friday, fitting a new alarm in her hallway.

Mrs Douglas, who was left without a smoke alarm for more than a month, said: “I was delighted. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders.

“There was an incident in the flat stair two years ago when youths set fire to a wheelie bin, which brought major flashbacks for myself, and my sleeping pattern has been off track since then.

“Having the alarm has given me a wee bit more reassurance and I’m really thankful that there’s one there now.

“I can sit down and relax a wee bit more knowing that it’s there.”

She added: “I couldn’t be any more thankful for how quickly the fire service responded after seeing the story.”

Mrs Douglas is still receiving treatment for the injuries she suffered in the 1988 fire which saw her parents Jackie, 42, and Jeanette McQueen, 35, and their three youngest children trapped in their Edinburgh maisonette.

Cheryl, then 13, managed to save her two younger sisters, Tracy, then eight, and Kerry, 7, by dropping them from the fifth-floor window before jumping herself.

Her brother Stephen, 17, who had been visiting friends, joined neighbours in trying to rescue their parents from their home in Greendykes Terrace. But their efforts proved in vain and the couple died, leaving their four children orphaned.

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “Musselburgh Blue Watch contacted Mrs Douglas after reading about her predicament. They completed a full home safety visit, fitted a free smoke detector and also tried to put her mind at rest over fire safety concerns.

“We believe that every home should have a smoke alarm and we will visit any address in Lothian and Borders to carry out a free home safety check and fit free smoke alarms.”

laura.cummings@edinburghnews.com