Fire chief sounds the alarm after spate of house blazes

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A FIRE safety chief today urged members of the public to "take responsibility" in their homes in the wake of a spate of serious blazes in the Capital.

David Lockhart, community safety manager for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, said the number of fire casualties - which included one fatality - over the past few weeks was "unacceptable".

Firefighters have attended 138 property fires since December 1, rescuing dozens of people from their burning homes.

One of the most recent fires , on Tuesday night in a tenement building in Rankeillor Street, saw crews rescue at least four people from the block after the blaze - which destroyed a dentist's surgery - broke out in the basement. It is believed to have been started deliberately.

Last week, 79-year-old Berit Mountain died after what was described as a "ferocious" fire, which may have been started by a cigarette, broke out in her Marchmont flat.

Mr Lockhart said smoking, cooking and faulty electrical appliances were the three main causes of fire and he urged members of the public to take every precaution, as well as making sure they plan for how they would respond to a blaze.

He said: "The level of fires in the home and the number of casualties and fatalities are still unacceptable and we are working towards making people safer in their homes, but people need to take responsibility for themselves as well and that's why we would urge people to consider fire as a very real risk.

"In general terms, fires in the home are normally related to either cooking, smoking or electrical appliances which are faulty.

"There are also other contributory factors, and alcohol is one of them.

"I have been to many an incident where alcohol has been involved - someone has come home from having a few drinks and decided to make something to eat. Alcohol makes you drowsy and lose the ability to react quickly to situations and things get out of hand.

"Just having that foresight as to how you're going to deal with a fire would help.

"The aim first and foremost should be to try to prevent fire from happening but if it does occur, it's important to know what to do."


Tuesday, 11pm: A major fire broke out in a Rankeilor Street building, destroying a dentist's surgery.

Monday, 10pm: A man and child jumped from a window to escape a fire in Calder Crescent. Meanwhile, firefighters battled fires at a chip shop and a pub in Livingston.

Monday, 4am: Four residents rescued from flats in Muirhouse Grove.

January 8, 2.20am: Around 20 people were rescued after a blaze in Queen Charlotte Street.

January 6, 8am: A heroine neighbour rescued a sleeping woman in a West Port tenement fire.

January 3, 5.40pm: Berit Mountain, 79, dies after suffering "horrific" burns in a fire at her flat in Argyle Park Terrace.

January 3, 12.50am: A house under renovation at Dick Place, the Grange was destroyed following a fire.

December 25, 2.20pm: A candle set fire to table decorations during Christmas dinner at a home in Liberton.

December 19, 8.06am: A teenager jumps from her bedroom window after her home in Anne Street, Bathgate, was apparently set alight by fireraisers.

December 15, 9am: Andrew Spouse, 26, from Granton, and a co-driver Lee Demarco break down the door of Jackie Dunn's house in Wemyss Gardens, Wallyford, and pull him to safety.

December 15, 8.30pm: A 25-year-old man was treated for burns after a pan caught fire at a flat in Fountainbridge.

December 13, 2.45pm: Two police officers risked their lives to save a 62-year-old man caught in a fire in a flat in Pilrig Heights.