'Left with the clothes I stood up in' - Neighbours tell of narrow escape from Guthrie Street blast 30 years ago

Eighteen-year-old Nicky Macintyre, who lived in a first floor flat with her one-year-old daughter, was left with ‘nothing but the clothes she stood up in’ by the Guthrie Street gas explosion on October 4 1989.

By Elsa Maishman
Friday, 4th October 2019, 2:34 pm
Nicky Macintyre narrowly escaped the blast 30 years ago.
Nicky Macintyre narrowly escaped the blast 30 years ago.

Luckily, Ms Macintyre had been staying at her parents flat on Nicholson Square while they were away on holiday, and was not in the building at the time.

She heard the sound of the explosion, but thought it was ‘just a car backfiring or something,” she said.

“I thought it was nothing, I didn’t think it would be my flat,” she said.

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Scenes from Guthrie Street after the blast.

Ms Macintyre later ‘wandered down’ to see what the commotion had been, and was shocked to realise the scale of the damage, and that the disaster had happened in her own building.

“It was surreal,” she said. “I thought ‘oh my God, that’s my house’.”

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Ms Macintyre said it was 'pure luck' her parents were away so she had not been on Guthrie Street at the time of the blast.

But that meant her parents were not in the city and could not contact her.

“I was so worried Mum and Dad would see it on the news in Ibiza, we didn’t have mobile phones back then so they were frantic," she said.

The day after the explosion residents of the building were given ten minutes by emergency service workers to search through the rubble for belongings.

But before it came to Ms Macintyre’s turn, the building collapsed and they were ushered out of harm’s way.

She did manage to look through the remains of a neighbour's flat with them before the collapse.

“It was dark and eerie, and I could hear a rustling noise. It was very scary,” she said.

Ms Macintyre had moved into the flat with her toddler just six months before the blast.

It was the first flat she had lived away from home.

Ms Macintyre and her daughter Leah were rehoused in Tron Square by Edinburgh City Council, and received £1000 in compensation from various sources to replace the belongings they had lost.