Woman taken to hospital after Leith flats alert

Police and fire crews attend the incident. Picture: Ian Rutherford.
Police and fire crews attend the incident. Picture: Ian Rutherford.
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A WOMAN was rushed to hospital and an entire block of flats sealed off after an alert over a ‘hazardous substance’.

It was initially reported a man spilled some toxic fluid in the communal stairwell at the top of the five-storey block in Pattison Street, Leith, shortly after 3pm yesterday sparking the alert.

Police and fire at Pattison Street, Leith. Pic: Laura Kinghorn

Police and fire at Pattison Street, Leith. Pic: Laura Kinghorn

Police later insisted there had been no chemical spill and would only say that the alert related to an unidentified substance.

Fire, ambulance and police officers had all flooded into the street with the road closed and residents told they could neither enter or leave due to a “risk to human life”.

Officers in yellow hazardous material suits then entered the building with numerous bagged items later removed.

The woman was transferred to hospital shortly before 7pm.

It is understood she lives a floor below where the incident occurred and had her young son within the flat at the time. He was unhurt and was left in the care of relatives last night.

Barry McPherson, 27, who lives in a ground floor flat directly opposite, said: “The police tried to keep it all low key but when I saw the guys getting changed into those spacesuits I knew it was serious.

“Then a large fire lorry arrived and they began taking barrels out of it. It was all a bit unreal to see out your window.

“They parked a large police van in front of the doorway to block people’s view of the stair, but you could see when they brought the woman out and into the ambulance. It raced off with its sirens blaring.”

The street remained closed off for more than four hours as emergency services dealt with the incident.

Local resident, John Martin, 66, said: “First two ambulances arrived, then three fire engines and numerous police. I thought it was either terrorist or drug related. You see a lot of junkies around this neck of the woods and other guys who look a bit suspicious.”

Last week Fire Scotland were also called to the block after bedding was set alight within a property on the third floor.

A local resident, who asked not to be named, said: “There are a lot of drug users staying in these stairs. I heard there was a lot of chemicals spilled on the landing on the top flat. You wonder why anyone in these stairs would want to be carting chemicals in and out?”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “About 1530 hours officers were called to an address in Pattison Street, Leith on the request of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

“Members of the public had alerted the ambulance service after they became concerned that they had come into contact with a hazardous substance.

“Police, fire and ambulance implemented a response until the identity of the substance could be established.

“There are no health concerns for any individual within the address.

“A woman was taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where she is undergoing treatment.”