Fire victim left with no smoke alarms

Cheryl Douglas lost her parents in a house blaze in 1988
Cheryl Douglas lost her parents in a house blaze in 1988
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A WOMAN left disabled by a fire which killed her parents more than 20 years ago claims she has been left terrified after the council removed her smoke alarms.

Cheryl Douglas was left with burns over 75 per cent of her body in the horrific fire which killed her parents, and still struggles to walk without pain.

Cheryl Douglas

Cheryl Douglas

She lives in constant fear of another fire – yet despite this she says a council contractor has now left her without a smoke alarm for more than a month, failing to replace the safety devices after removing them for a routine check in August.

Mrs Douglas, 37, of Musselburgh, said she had been left terrified of a fire breaking out in her building while the alarms were not there, with neighbours in her building storing equipment including a petrol lawn mower and a can of petrol.

The company is contracted by the council to carry out gas servicing and repairs on properties, and Mrs Douglas said they came to her home in August to check her heating system – and left with all the smoke alarms.

“I was in bed at the time because I was unwell, but my daughter let them in, and they took away the four smoke alarms,” she said.

“They told us it was so they could be replaced and said they would be back with new ones that afternoon, but it has been more than a month now and they still haven’t done anything.

“It’s just horrible for me because I still live in fear of another fire after what happened to my family, and I can’t understand why they haven’t sorted this out by now. I’ve been struggling to sleep lately because of this.”

East Lothian Council said the company had made repeated attempts to arrange a time to re-install the devices, although Mrs Douglas insisted the only attempt made was after she contacted the company herself this week – only to find them demanding to come round at the same time she had a hospital appointment.

That was to continue her treatment for the injuries she suffered in the 1988 fire which saw her parents Jackie, 42, and Jeanette McQueen, 35, and their three youngest children trapped in their Edinburgh maisonette.

Cheryl, then 13, managed to save her two younger sisters, Tracy, then eight, and Kerry, 7, by dropping them from the fifth-floor window before jumping herself.

Her brother Stephen, 17, who had been visiting friends, joined neighbours in trying to rescue their parents from their home in Greendykes Terrace. But their efforts proved in vain and the couple died, leaving their four children orphaned.

“The company did say yesterday they would come round, but I had to go to a hospital appointment, and I couldn’t re-schedule it,” she said.

“It was only when I called them to ask what was happening that they said they would come round, and by that time there was no way I could re-arrange my hospital visit.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “We are aware of the tenant’s concerns and have been trying to set up an appropriate time for her smoke alarms to be fitted.”