Elderly woman dies after 'ferocious' blaze in flat

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AN elderly woman died in a "ferocious" fire which broke out in her Marchmont flat.

&#149 Firefighters look up at the scorched and shattered window of the flat in Argyle Park Terrace.

Firefighters pulled the 79-year-old woman from the tenement flat in Argyle Park Terrace yesterday after a neighbour smelled smoke and raised the alarm. She was rushed to hospital, but died in the early hours of this morning.

Two other people - a man and a woman believed to be in their 30s - were treated at the scene and then taken to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary suffering from smoke inhalation.

Richard Robinson, who lives in the flat above the woman, called 999 after smelling smoke at around 5.40pm and tried to alert his neighbour by hammering on her door.

He said: "I thought I could smell smoke, so I went round my own flat first to see if there was anything untoward, then I opened the main door and I could see a slight amount of smoke coming up the stairwell. I didn't investigate any further, I just rang 999.

"I then went down the stairs to the old lady whose flat it is and I could see the smoke was coming from her flat. I couldn't hear any smoke alarm so I banged loudly and kicked the door to try and wake her up in case she was asleep. I didn't go any further, because I knew the fire brigade would be there within 30 seconds. I could hear some movement, but there was no reply at all."

The elderly woman has been named locally as Berit Mountain and is understood to be of Swedish descent. She is thought to have a son and a daughter.

Mr Robinson said that the fire appeared to worsen inside the flat as he stood at the door: "When I was outside the door I could see smoke coming out. It was initially not very thick, but about 20 seconds before the fire brigade arrived, it suddenly thickened into very thick smoke."

The heat of the fire shattered the windows of the first floor flat, with flames leaping out and leaving scorch marks.

Mr Robinson said: "When I got down and came out of the building I was shocked to see that the window was completely gone and there were flames coming out. I didn't think the fire was that bad."

He said Mrs Mountain, who was a widow, has lived there for many years, and used to carry out volunteer work for homelessness charity The Ark with her late husband. Around 20 firefighters were involved in extinguishing the blaze describing it as "ferocious".

Fire investigators were last night examining the flat to try and establish the cause.

In a separate incident, a 54-year-old man was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation after a chip pan caught fire at 5.15pm yesterday in a house in Royston Main Street, Granton.

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