Devastated neighbours have paid tribute to a “brilliant, music-mad” woman who died after a blaze ripped through her top-floor flat in the middle of the afternoon.
Flames engulfed the property in Tweed Drive in Livingston’s Craigshills area shortly before 3pm on Thursday, causing the flat’s windows to explode and shower the street below in glass.
Firefighters battling the blaze confirmed a body had been found after crews forced their way inside the burning property. The victim has since been named locally as 43-year-old Lorraine Malloch.
Neighbours hailed a “brilliant” woman who was loved by everyone in the community.
A poignant floral tribute to Lorraine – known locally as Lala – placed outside the flat read: “Our best mucker Lala, we’ll never stop missing you. You will be with us in our hearts every second, forever. All our love always.”
Another said simply: “God has a new angel.”
Last night, police confirmed they had launched a probe into the cause of the blaze, which was already well alight when fire crews arrived on the scene.
One neighbour, who asked not to be named, described the flat’s windows shattering as flames “poured out from the bedroom window”, melting the window frames and sending “thick, black smoke” up into the sky.
She said: “We heard the smoke alarm going off and I stuck my head out the window, and I could see it was Lorraine’s flat.
“I was the one who told the fire crews there was actually a person inside the flat. The boy that stays in the flat across from her had tried to kick the door in, but the chain was on.
“The fireman went on his radio straight away the moment I said that, and the fire investigation team were here all night.
“It’s obviously a sad time. You could see the flames from outside, coming out of the bedroom window. The windows just exploded out.”
She added: “We knew her very well. She was a brilliant person – you could not have met a nicer person. She always said hello to everybody, and she always had a lot of members of her family going in and out.
“She loved her music – she was always going off to see different bands.
“She actually had a book of concert tickets, with tickets of all the gigs she had ever been to in it, and it was bulging full. She had been to every single T in the Park since it started.”
Another neighbour said the blaze had been “devastating” to witness. He added: “I think it will take us a long, long time to get over this. Her mum will be devastated – she was very close to her mum.”
It is understood Lorraine, who was unemployed due to health issues, lived alone and had no children. Friends said her mum, who stays nearby, had been in Spain visiting Lorraine’s brother when she heard the news.
A police spokesman said: “Emergency services in West Lothian were called to a house fire on Tweed Drive, Livingston, at around 3pm on Thursday.
“A body has been found on the premises and an inquiry into the full circumstances is currently ongoing.”