Brave schoolgirls hailed for saving OAP from house fire

THREE schoolgirls have been hailed heroes after rescuing a pensioner from his burning home – saving his life by a matter of minutes.

Had it not been for the girls' quick thinking, 74-year-old William McCall could have perished as he sat in his living room, unaware that his kitchen was ablaze, fire chiefs said.

The confused pensioner was led to safety by the girls who spotted the blaze as they were walking home from school.

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David Lockhart, community safety manager with Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We praise the actions of these girls, knowing it would have been a very different situation if they hadn't acted with such vigilance and care."

The fire broke out in Mr McCall's property on Arrol Place, South Queensferry, at about 4pm on Thursday.

• Ellie Rye, Lauren Jackson and Emma Stuart who saved a mans life by phoning for the fire brigade after discovering his house was on fire.

Ellie, of Almond Grove, said: "We weren't sure at first where it was coming from, but worked out it was from his house. Then we could hear an almost popcorn-style noise, which we found out was his kitchen windows breaking."

Emma, of Whitehead Grove, said: "We were about to go up to the door when we saw Lauren, so we shouted her over."

Senior student Lauren Jackson, 17, rushed up the street to the house and rang the door bell. She said: "There was black smoke everywhere but the door wasn't locked, so I opened it. The man was in the hall and seemed confused, thinking I was a relative.

"He asked me to come in, but I told him he had to get out. I got his hand and helped him out, closing the door and then calling 999."

Two passing 12-year-olds, Emma Stuart and Ellie Rye, were making their way home from the nearby Queensferry High School but were distracted by the faint sound of a smoke alarm.

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Neighbours helped Mr McCall to safety and within minutes firefighters were tackling the blaze, which destroyed his kitchen and caused extensive smoke damage.

Initial investigations suggest the fire was caused by food which had been left in the cooker.

Lauren, of Rosebery Avenue, said: "The man was clearly very shaken and didn't want to leave. He even tried to go back in."

The girls are expected to be in line for a commendation at school to mark their bravery.

Depute headteacher Irene Davidson said: "I am very proud of them all. One firefighter told me that a difference of just five minutes would have resulted in a very different story – not only would the neighbouring houses have caught fire, but the man may not have lived. I hope the girls' actions restore some people's faith in the younger generation – these are super children indeed."