13 rescued as tenement blaze traps residents

Fire crews outside the Waterline pub in Leith
Fire crews outside the Waterline pub in Leith
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FIREFIGHTERS rescued 13 people from a burning building during a major emergency operation at the Shore.

Seven casualties were treated in hospital for smoke inhalation but nobody was seriously injured.

The blaze started in the first floor flat of a four-storey tenement above the Waterline Pub, in Leith, at 8.40pm last night.

The fire was reported by panicked residents above the flat who found themselves trapped by thick smoke in the stairwell.

The living room and kitchen of the home where the blaze was sparked was today described as “completely gutted”. The rest of the flat suffered extensive smoke damage.

Around 45 firefighters tackled the flames and rescued people from windows at the front and side of the tenement on Waters Close using a turntable ladder and a hydraulic platform.

It is not yet known what started the blaze. An investigation is under way today.

Fire service telephone operators provided survival guidance for residents trapped in flats above the blaze.

Initial reports suggested some residents had been unaccounted for but fire crews carried out multiple rescues and fought the flames using breathing kits and high pressure hose reels.

Four people were rescued by hydraulic platform, one by ladder and others were led to safety by firefighters using the stairs.

It is understood the occupant of the flat where the fire sparked had been in a nearby pub and was contacted by a friend to say her home was ablaze.

When she arrived at the scene the woman was said to be “hysterical” and believed her parents may have been inside.

Witnesses told how smoke was bellowing from the first floor windows while flames could be seen tearing through the flat.

David Young, group commander at Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, said: “[We were told] there was the possibility there were people trapped inside the building. When we arrived there was a well developed fire in the first floor flat above the Waterline Pub.

“We performed multiple rescues using a hydraulic platform at the front and the side of the building while there was also a rescue using a ladder at Waters Close. No one has been reported injured at this point.

“Control operators were giving survival guidance over the phone to people trapped inside.

“It could have been very serious. We were rescuing people from the windows and when people cannot escape using their stairwell it’s very frightening for them.”

As well as the fire service, 11 ambulances, police cars and emergency Red Cross vehicles attended. The fire was fully extinguished at 10.50pm.