Tower block suicide fire horror

A MAN has died in a fire at a Leith tower block in a suspected suicide.

The 37-year-old man, who has not been named, was dragged out of his burning eighth floor flat in Cables Wynd House by firefighters at about 3pm yesterday.

Several items of furniture were piled up against the door of the flat, suggesting that a fire had been started deliberately in a suicide attempt, a fire brigade source said.

Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene, estimating he had lost his life up to an hour before his body was pulled on to the building's main landing.

Emergency services first received the call-out to the fire at 1.45pm. More than 40 firefighters were dispatched to deal with the blaze, which was especially severe due to the intense heat given out by the concrete structure.

As smoke and flames poured from the window, firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used thermal imaging cameras to locate the man inside.

Ross Wynn, divisional officer with Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade, said it was an extremely difficult operation for his teams.

"With the concrete structure, fires like this are always more intense and more dangerous for the firefighters, because such a strong heat is given out.

"And it was extremely difficult for the crews to gain access to the flat because there was a lot of furniture piled up against the door.

"Once they got in, the heat came up to meet them from the lower floor."

There were no other casualties in the blaze, which caused severe damage to the dead man's flat but was prevented from spreading to other properties.

Today, a friend of the deceased, Robert Cowan, told of his deep sadness at the death of a man "who cared about and helped everyone he knew".

Mr Cowan, 31, whose sister lives in Cables Wynd House, said: "He had the biggest heart, he cared about absolutely everybody.

"He would give you money or food if you were in need and he was devoted to his kids, who live in Fife. I just can't believe what's happened."

A police spokesman said: "As a result of a fire within a flat in Cables Wynd House, a 37-year-old male sustained injuries from which he died.

"Our inquiries into the incident are continuing."

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