Residents slam safety measures after flats fire horror

SCARED residents have slammed fire safety measures at their block of flats after they were forced to flee an early morning blaze.

Saturday, 5th May 2018, 6:00 am
Robertson Gait residents Dorothy Lost (L) and Lorna Greenham (R) with other residents at the broken front door. Picture: Neil Hanna

Some tenants ran into the street in their nightclothes, others clambered over railings or huddled on balconies to escape choking smoke early yesterday.

They demanded showdown talks with landlords over faulty fire doors, ventilation windows and a lack of smoke alarms at their Gorgie block.

“A lot of people in the building didn’t even know,” said Robertson Gait resident Dorothy Yost, 51.

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“In light of Grenfell, it’s concerning that there was no warning for people.”

Primary school teacher Dorothy Yost fled into the street with son Joshua, 25, and daughter Iona, 18, as the fire took hold shortly after midnight.

“We were all in bed when we heard banging on the door – I opened it and there was a guy there, black from head to toe from the smoke. We quickly got some clothes on and got out and phoned the fire brigade.”

Although the blaze activated the alarm in the flat where it started – neighbour Ms Yost said some didn’t work. “Our alarm didn’t go off and there were no alarms in the communal areas,” she added.

Specialist ventilation windows designed to open during a fire have been permanently open while other remained closed during the fire, said Ms Yost.

Worried residents called an emergency group meeting yesterday to discuss issues at the 40 flats to rise with block managers Home Scotland. “We’re all angry,” said Ms Yost. “It’s a nightmare.”

Retired school janitor Lorna Greenham was led to safety in her nightclothes over a first floor balcony onto a raised walkway by 19-year-old Martin.

“It was cold but at least I was out,” said a relieved Ms Greenham, 70.

She said a fire inspector reported a faulty fire door two weeks ago but it has yet to be fixed. “It’s a bit distressing,” said Ms Greenham. “This is a warning.”

Emphysema-sufferer Jackie McKiernan was sound asleep when her alarm woke her before she shut herself on the balcony to her first floor flat.

“I looked through the spyhole and thought the lights were out but they weren’t, it was the thick smoke. I’ve been coughing up black bits this morning which is obviously the smoke and my lungs are damaged as it is.”

Care coordinator Lynn Liddell lives in the flat above where the fire took hold and said a faulty fire door meant the whole six-storey block, built in 2006, filled with choking smoke.

“There are people with young children up there who shouldn’t be up there anyway but they couldn’t get out – it’s really freaked us all out.”

The fire is believed to have been caused by a cigarette and a man in his 20s remained in hospital yesterday afternoon.

A Scottish Fire Service spokesman: “Firefighters 
located and extinguished the fire before ensuring the area was made safe.”

David Summers, head of maintenance at Home Group, said: “Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of residents and we are currently working with the authorities to establish the cause of the fire.”