Fountainbridge flat explosion: Victim remembered a year after tragedy of Edinburgh gas blast

Fountainbridge flat explosion devastated family

Gordon Sievewright, 69, from Edinburgh died after a suspected gas leak caused a major explosion in the four-story tenement building and a fire at around 5pm on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.
Gordon Sievewright, 69, from Edinburgh died after a suspected gas leak caused a major explosion in the four-story tenement building and a fire at around 5pm on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.

One year on from the gas explosion that tore apart a tenement building in Fountainbridge an eye-witness has recalled the “terrifying” blast which claimed the life of a pensioner.At 5.30pm on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, the emergency services arrived at the four-storey building to find fire raging, clouds of billowing smoke and swarms of panicking people.Crews from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service battled the flames and carried out a detailed search of the building. During this search, a person was found dead on the second floor.

Later identified as Gordon Sievewright, the 69-year-old body remained in the building for more than a week as extensive damage made it impossible for emergency services to enter the building.

After Mr Sievewright’s body was removed his devastated family thanked the “brave” individuals who risked their lives to retrieve him.

Photos show scale of safety work at devastated Fountainbridge flats

Maddie Mould was closing up shop at Hula Juice Bar with two other employees when she was alerted to the explosion.

The 26-year-old barista said: “I was in the back when the explosion happened so didn’t hear anything but my manager ran in shouting ‘there is smoke everywhere, there’s been a fire’.

“We all ran to the front of the cafe and saw smoke pouring from the block of flats above, it looked terrible.

“The smoke was crazy. It filled the streets and I remember seeing swarms of scared people on the streets trying to get a look at what was going on.”

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Shortly after this a firefighter came into the cafe and informed the shocked staff that there had been a suspected explosion and asked them to remain barricaded in the cafe while the area was secured.

Maddie said: “We didn’t really know what to do so we kept closing up the cafe but it was very scary not knowing what was going on and thinking there might be more explosions.”

Staff were escorted from the building at 7pm and the cafe remained closed for the following three days.

Upon returning to work Maddie said the “worst part” was walking past the building and knowing someone’s dead body remained trappedinside.

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She said: “For a long while after the explosion, there was a really horrible feeling around the street.

“We knew it was someone’s home which had been destroyed as we could see the inside of their kitchen and the open fridge when you walked past.

“Knowing that someone had been killed and was still in the rubble was horribly sad to think about.”

Chief Inspector Scott Richardson said that a year on from the deadly blast his thoughts continue to be with Mr Sievewright and his family following their loss.

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Prosecutors at the Crown Office are considering a report into the fatality

He added: “I’d like to thank the local residents and businesses for their patience during these works and co-operation in the aftermath as we carried out an investigation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“This investigation has concluded and a report into the circumstances surrounding the incident has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

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Joy Yates

Editorial Director