Breadalbane Street fire: Residents 'had fire safety concerns since Grenfell'

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Residents of a Leith block of flats where a large fire broke out early today had been worried about the building's safety since Grenfell, reports have claimed.

And Edinburgh Northern and Leith SNP MSP Ben Macpherson told the Scottish Parliament that "combustible cladding" could have been a factor in the blaze at the flats in Breadalbane Street, Bonnington, where about 100 residents had to leave their homes at around 4am.

Residents of the block of flats in Breadalbane Street are said to have had fire safety concerns since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017. Residents of the block of flats in Breadalbane Street are said to have had fire safety concerns since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.
Residents of the block of flats in Breadalbane Street are said to have had fire safety concerns since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017. | Graham Simpson

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The blaze has now been put out, fire chiefs confirmed tonight, 12 hours after it started. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service posted on social media: "The fire is now extinguished and has been brought to a safe conclusion." Two firefghters were injured tackling the blaze.

STV reported that residents of the flats had had fire safety concerns about the block since the Grenfell tragedy in 2017, when 72 people died after dangerous cladding allowed fire to spread rapidly through the London tower block.

And they quoted one resident, Harry Williams, describing how the fire at Breadalbane Street spread to around five or six different properties, with up to 20 flats potentially affected by smoke damage. “Due to materials on the outside and a lack of fire compartmentation between the different flats, flames have been able to trace through into other areas.

"Grenfell was obviously a big wake up call for the industry and a big wake up call for residents in high rise buildings. Immediately following Grenfell we started to reach out to our factors, and it’s taken until now for them to get to this position of understanding that they might need to get round to replacing the wood on the outside.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Persimmon is coming with some solutions now but we sit day by day in a flat that is potentially a fire hazard and could potentially kill people.”

STV also quoted Tory MSP Graham Simpson, who was one of the residents evacuated, saying that because of the cladding there was a fire warden who patrolled every night.

And they reported concerns that because of a pedestrianised courtyard the fire brigade could not get a height appliance to the side of the building where the fire was and had to tackle it from the other side. A fire chief told the channel the courtyard meant access at the rear was "not as good as you would like" but said they had "ample access" when they arrived.

Ben Macpherson raised the fire with Humza Yousaf at First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament. He said: "Parliament will be aware of the concerning fire on Breadalbane Street in my constituency, where combustible cladding may have been a factor. Does the First Minister share my empathy for everyone affected and my gratitude to the many firefighters and other emergency service personnel who responded?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Does the First Minister agree that this very worrying incident emphasises the importance of high-rise firefighting capability in urban areas and the extra funding for the fire service in the budget, and that it is vital that the Housing (Cladding Remediation) (Scotland) Bill and the cladding remediation programme are taken forward with urgency by Parliament, Government and developers?"

M Yousaf voiced his thanks to the Scottish Fire ad Rescue Service. And he continued: "What Ben Macpherson says about cladding is incredibly important, and it is incredibly important that the bill continues to make progress — the stage 1 debate took place this week — and that all the stakeholders who have responsibility for cladding remediation take that responsibility seriously. They do not have to wait for the bill in order to take action."

Persimmon, the building's developers, told STV they were “concerned” to hear about the fire, and that resident safety was their “priority”. A spokesperson said: “We have been acting ahead of government requirements to address historic build issues. This includes fully funding the waking watch on duty last night. We also have a contractor ready to begin works once their appointment is agreed with the residents committee. We will continue to provide all appropriate support to ensure resident safety.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.