A team of landscape gardeners did everything they could to try and help a 72-year-old woman trapped in her upstairs bedroom as fire engulfed her home.
Ryan Rice, owner of Grassmasters landscapers, said he only wished he and his employees could have done more to get the woman from the burning property in Dochart Place, Polmont yesterday afternoon.
Ryan and the lads were in the street carrying out work for a resident when the fire broke out.
He said: “It was the first day of a fortnight’s job and we were working in the front garden. Just after 12pm we smelled smoke and thought maybe it was a barbecue.
“Then we heard a woman screaming from her top bedroom window, she was shouting on us for help. John, Alec and I ran over to help and the flames were right up the hall. We told her to jump out the window, that we would catch her, but she wouldn’t jump.
“We kicked in the front and back doors but the fire was too strong and there was too much smoke. We got ladders up against the wall, but they just folded because of the heat – they melted under me.
“She was screaming at us hanging out of the window – we were helpless. We tried our best and tried everything we could, but she was covered in black smoke and we heard window after window smashing with the heat.
“We had to come away for our own safety. All the neighbours were shaking our hands saying we were heroes for trying. I just wish we could have got her out.”
Firefighters arrived at the scene shortly afterwards, but the elderly woman – who has not yet been named by police – sadly died at the scene.
A total of nine fire appliances sped to the street to deal with the burning house and were still damping the premises down well into the afternoon.
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson said: “Operations Control mobilised a number of fire appliances to Dochart Crescent where firefighters extinguished the fire.
“Sadly a woman was found to have passed away at the scene, and our thoughts are with those affected at this time.
“A joint investigation between SFRS and Police Scotland is now underway.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson added: “Police in Forth Valley responded along with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to a report of a fire in Polmont. The incident was reported to police around 12.15pm on Monday, May 13 at an address in Dochart Crescent.
“As a result, a 72-year-old woman sadly died at the scene and a joint investigation is underway to establish the full circumstances surrounding this fire.”
A resident of the street said: “It’s awful when something like this happens to someone you know. She was a nice lady who would never pass you in the street without talking to you. I used to see her a lot walking the dogs with her husband.”
Other residents of the house – an elderly man and his dogs – are now being temporary accommodated by neighbours, who are working to get the man, believed to be the victim’s husband, clothing and other essential items.
A Just Giving page has been set up to help the elderly man and his dogs and has already collected almost £800.