FIREFIGHTERS were spat at by teenagers in one call out as crews attended 120 bonfire calls on Guy Fawkes Night, including a large blaze on Arthur’s Seat.
The number of bonfire-related incidents was higher than last year, though fire chiefs say it was lower than they expected given the mild weather conditions and the fact that November 5 fell on a Saturday this year.
The night passed without serious incident or injury. However, call-outs are still being analysed by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service.
So far, only one incident of abuse towards fire crews has been reported.
Firefighters attending wheelie bin fires at Whitburn Community Centre just after 9.30pm on Saturday were spat on and given verbal abuse by a group of teenagers.
The night saw fire crews across the Lothians dealing with a total of 234 incidents.
As well as the bonfire calls, they still had to attend the usual Saturday night calls, including road traffic accidents, house fires and automatic fire alarms.
A large blaze broke out on Arthur’s Seat just before 10.25pm, with the fire service receiving 50 calls from concerned members of the public.
Crews discovered 300 by 100 metres of gorse was alight and some areas were smouldering to the south near St Anthony’s Chapel.
Arthur’s Seat is a popular spot for revellers to watch firework displays and there have been incidents in previous years. Firefighters used a fire break to stop the blaze spreading.
Another major incident took place just after 11pm in Magdalene Gardens.
A block of flats had to be evacuated after a wheelie bin was set alight and a mains gas intake was ruptured.
Members of the British Red Cross attended to help emergency crews, and a 68-year-old man was treated by paramedics for slight smoke inhalation.
In an unrelated incident, a 46-year-old woman had to be treated for smoke inhalation after a pan of food caught fire at her home in Whitecraig, East Lothian. The woman managed to extinguish the small blaze before firefighters arrived at her home at 11.45pm last night. She was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene but did need to go to hospital.
A spokeswoman for the fire service said, although crews were extremely busy on Saturday night, it could have been a lot worse.
She said: “We have worked really hard getting the message out to the public to make sure people realise the extra burden that’s put on us at this time of year and it seems that message is getting through.
“People are choosing to go to organised bonfire events, or if they are having their own, they are being a bit more sensible about the risks. In recent years, there have been much higher levels of activity.
“It was still a really busy night for us compared to a normal Saturday night, but it’s slowly improving. We had 120 bonfire calls, and 100 the previous year, but given that the weather was much better this year and the fact that it was a Saturday night, we were expecting it to be a lot busier.”
The Capital’s biggest public fireworks display at Meadowbank Stadium on Saturday night was a sell-out.
Frazer Ford, 22, used the opportunity to propose to girlfriend Felicity Wigley, who was celebrating her 24th birthday the same day.
Radio DJ Big Al called Miss Wigley out to the front to sing happy birthday to her, then passed the microphone to her boyfriend for the proposal. The couple, from Fife, plan to marry in 2013.