Suspicion over flats blaze

Firefighters sift through the damage in Tarvit Street
Firefighters sift through the damage in Tarvit Street
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A BLAZE that forced one man to leap to safety from a first-floor window is being treated as suspicious, say police.

Fifteen people were rescued by ladder after the fire broke out in a ground-floor flat in Tollcross early yesterday morning.

The 35-year-old man was forced to jump 20ft from his flat window and was found at the rear of the building.

He suffered back injuries and was taken to the Royal Infirmary by ambulance, along with another eight people who were treated for smoke inhalation.

Residents woke to screaming and shouting at around 2.30am, when smoke started billowing out through the windows and doors of the four-storey tenement building in Tarvit Street.

Firefighters used a ladder and a turntable in a rescue operation to remove people from the upper floors.

Residents were seen crying in the street as firefighters tackled the blaze.

Crews woke residents in the neighbouring tenement during the night to let them know about the fire and check they were safe, later confirming that no-one was in the ground-floor flat at the time of the fire.

Resident Lucy Kershaw, a research fellow at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said she was impressed with the fire and rescue team’s response.

She said: “I was massively impressed – they were so quick and efficient with the rescue.

“The firefighter on the ladder was unbelievably brave. I couldn’t have gone up there and rescued all those people.”

Detectives are currently following “a positive line of inquiry”, but anyone with information that can assist their investigation is asked to come forward.

A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “It was very fortunate that firefighters were able to effect so many rescues in what would have been a difficult set of circumstances for everybody.

“Being the early hours of the morning, to be woken up and told you need to come out of your flat would be a very frightening experience.

“It’s fortunate that nobody was more seriously injured.”

A police spokesman added: “This fire had the potential to cause serious injury to the residents within the block of flats and we are now carrying out local enquiries to positively identify those responsible.

“Anyone who was in or around Tarvit Street prior to the fire and saw anything suspicious should contact police immediately.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0131-311 3131, or the charity Crimestoppers on 0800-555 111.