Bungling council workmen came to fix leak but set house on fire

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A SIMPLE repair job turned into a terrifying ordeal after bungling workmen set fire to a terminally ill man’s house.

A now bust sub-contractor appointed by Edinburgh City Council was fitting new flooring in the bathroom of Ian Shanley’s Newington home when a fire broke out, causing extensive damage to the ground-floor flat.

Ian Shanley, wife Lisa and grandson were in their council home when a bungling workman set fire to flooring adhesive and the house went up in flames.' Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Ian Shanley, wife Lisa and grandson were in their council home when a bungling workman set fire to flooring adhesive and the house went up in flames.' Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The 58-year-old was at home with his wife Lisa and two-year-old grandson in February when the blaze forced them to flee from the council property.

Dressed in only pyjamas and a dressing gown, the family watched in horror as the fire brigade tried to douse the flames.

Now after five months, the family are still waiting for repairs to be completed so they can move back home.

Mr Shanley, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in April – just two month after losing his home – said he was furious it had taken so long to fix the damage.

“I’ve not even had a letter of apology or anything,” he said.

“There has been nothing to say they are sorry for what happened or offer of compensation for all that we lost in the fire.

“But it’s got to the stage where I really just want to get back into my house.”

The damage to the flat in Rankin Avenue was extensive, with Mr Shanley describing it as “basically ruined”. He explained the events that led to the fire.

“A workman from UK Soft Furnishing Ltd was working on my toilet,” he said.

“I’ve got a wet room and they were putting new flooring down.

“I was standing at the living room watching him working when the guy put adhesive up the sides and he was using a heat torch, but he must have heated it too much.

“He grabbed a towel to pat it out before knocking over his gallon of adhesive and the whole thing exploded.

“Luckily we were close to the outside door. It was absolutely terrifying.

“All we had on was jammies and Lisa only had a housecoat.”

It took three weeks to find temporary accommodation for the family, who have been placed in a high rise flat in Dumbiedykes.

Mr Shanley, who has also been fighting HIV for 22 years, was told he would get back into his house in Newington, but after nearly five months waiting for repairs to be made he is now at the end of his tether.

“I received a letter from the council telling me that the sub-contractor went into liquidation and they are dealing with it, but it’s been five months I can’t take much more,” he said.

City housing and economy convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “We fully sympathise with the circumstances Mr Shanley and his family find themselves in following the fire at their home.

“We are doing all we can to support them during what will be a difficult time.

“We’re also making sure that the repairs are carried out quickly, so that they can return home as soon as possible.”

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said they had to mobilise two fire engines and a height appliance to tackle the blaze.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk