TWO hundred blazes in the Capital were caused by smoking mishaps in a year, a new study showed today, with the Sighthill/Gorgie area proving to be the hotspot.
The report said that 43 fires in that ward were suspected to be smoking-related, more than twice the number found anywhere else in the city.
Fire chiefs said that blazes caused by smoking materials remains a “big issue” despite regular safety campaigns.
The figures, which were part of the first quarterly report for Edinburgh by the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, also identified 93 fires between April last year and March where drugs or alcohol use was a suspected factor.
Leith and Leith Walk posted the two highest results for drugs and alcohol-related blazes, with 17 apiece.
Edinburgh area commander John Dickie said it was “difficult” to say why Sighthill/Gorgie topped the smoking table.
He said: “It may be population density, the number of smokers in the area. We can’t say because this is the first year that these figures have been produced. It will take a few years before we can start drawing conclusions.
“Smoking is still a big issue for us. We try and raise public awareness through various campaigns.”
Mr Dickie said that smokers failing to stub out properly was one of the most common causes, while others may have fallen asleep.
He added: “Alcohol and drugs factors could be down to population density or the demographics of those living there. These are also incidents where alcohol or drugs was a suspected contributory factor.
“They may be incidents where someone has come home, started cooking and fell asleep, or fell asleep while smoking.”
Lord Provost Donald Wilson, councillor for the Sighthill/Gorgie ward, said: “I’m quite surprised by the smoking figures. It may be due to the large number of tenement buildings in a densely populated area. Perhaps people are more likely to smoke in their homes as they would only have a communal garden or the street otherwise.
“It’s very concerning as we know how serious tenement fires can be.”
Leith Walk and Leith wards have each had another three such incidents between April and June.
Leith councillor Gordon Munro said: “I have to say I’m not surprised by the level of fires in the Leith area where alcohol or drugs is a factor. When you look at the accident and emergency visits, Leith also has twice the city average.
“Alcohol and drugs, as well as mental health issues, are a potent combination and can create a dynamic where more fires can happen.”
Firefighters dealt with 6680 false alarms during the year, with 1597 coming from the city centre with its high proportion of shops, hotels and university facilities.