A FAMILY home left gutted after a blaze tore through its upper level was the scene of a tragic death just over five years ago.
More than 30 firefighters battled for nearly three hours on Monday night to extinguish flames engulfing the roof of the semi-detached bungalow in Walden Terrace, Gifford.
And today shocked residents told of how the incident was the second tragedy in recent years to hit the Ross family, which owns the house.
Wife and mum Ceri Ross, 60, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in October 2009 after material dislodged during repair work at the bungalow blocked 80 per cent of her chimney.
Mrs Ross, who was blind, was the only one at home at the time but was later discovered by her husband Grant lying on the living room floor.
Monday night’s blaze, which started at around 8pm, saw the roof of the bungalow partially collapse under the searing heat of 15ft-high flames – but fire crews confirmed no-one was injured in the incident.
Grant, who is in his late 60s, lives in the house with his grown-up son, but both were out at the time.
The family dog, meanwhile, is understood to have been in kennels for the night – and a grown-up daughter is currently believed to be in Thailand.
The Ross family’s elderly next-door neighbour was also saved from the flames by quick-thinking neighbours who spotted the fire in its early stages.
Heather Manson, who lives in the street directly behind Walden Terrace, phoned fire crews after catching sight of thick black smoke creeping out from under the roof tiles as she cycled past.
The 31-year-old said: “Little bits of black smoke were coming through the roof tiles. It’s scary how difficult to notice it was – but it went from smoke to blaze within about 15 minutes. I could hear the crackling, and it was filled with black smoke when I looked in the windows.
“I chapped on a neighbour’s door and we got their next-door neighbour out – she was in some state, but she was really brave.
“She went and banged on the door and was saying, ‘If you’re in there, get out’.”
The Ross family could not be reached for comment, but one resident who spoke to Grant the morning after the blaze said: “It’s sad – he’s had a tough time of it. But he seemed okay, if a little bit upset.”
Craig McLachlan, chair of Gifford Community Council, said the incident has left the community shaken.
He said: “It’s fortunate no-one was hurt either in the house or in the houses surrounding it. In a wee community like this, it really is a shocker.
“It was an exceptionally bad fire and I believe the house has been gutted. I think if anyone had been in the house it would have been a different story altogether.”
A fire service spokeswoman confirmed an investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, which is understood to have started in the kitchen.