Fearful residents pack up after two blazes in two days

TERRIFIED residents rescued by firefighters from a block of flats in Tollcross have told how they are quitting their homes instead of living in fear of another blaze.

One man jumped to safety from a first-floor window and 15 other people were rescued by ladder after the fire – the second in two days – broke out in a ground-floor flat in Tarvit Street.

Kuda Chidziva, 28, who has lived in a first-floor flat in the block since the start of the year, told the Evening News he plans to leave by the end of the week.

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He said: “I was speaking to people downstairs and they have decided to move, and I will be doing the same as well.

“I don’t really feel safe anymore. I’ll have to live temporarily with my brother in Glasgow until I find alternative accommodation in Edinburgh.

“The second fire was suspicious and it happened while everyone was asleep, so it’s frightening.”

Mr Chidziva, who was rescued by ladder but did not require hospital treatment following Friday’s fire, said: “I was woken up by someone shouting ‘help’. I opened my door but the smoke was so thick that I could barely keep it open, so I closed it again.

“I thought, ‘If push comes to shove, I will just jump out’. I was panicking but had a very logical way of looking at it all.”

The account manager added: “Some people literally had ten seconds to get out because every room in their flat was filled with smoke. My floors and windows were covered in smoke.”

Pensioner Donald Millan, 65, a retired dishwasher, was woken by his fire alarm.

“The firemen took me down the ladder, I was out of breath and shaking,” he said. “It was really frightening.”

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Mr Millan, who has lived in a second-floor flat in the block for five years, said he planned to stay put because he had nowhere else to go.

Another resident in the block, who was rescued from his flat by ladder but did not want to be named, said: “I have spoken to a number of residents and they are all moving out because they find it so traumatic to live here.”

A 35-year-old man was forced to jump 20ft from his flat window during Friday’s fire. He suffered back injuries and was taken to the Royal Infirmary, along with another eight people who were treated for smoke inhalation.

Aaron Webster, 25, a geography student at Edinburgh University who was rescued by ladder, is also hoping to move out. He has lived in the second-floor flat, which he rents, since August.

“I’m thinking about moving but it’s not the easiest thing to do, especially when I’ve only been here six months,” he said.

The first fire, which is being treated as non-suspicious, took place at around 1am on Thursday in the same ground-floor flat as the more serious blaze on Friday morning.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said Thursday’s fire was thought to have been caused by an electrical fault. Nobody was injured.

Two men, aged 20 and 18, have been arrested and charged in connection with the fire, which broke out at around 2.30am on Friday. They were scheduled to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.