Edinburgh house explosion: Tributes to James Smith, 84, who died in gas explosion

Tributes were paid as investigations continued into the cause of the explosion
James Smith. Picture: contributedJames Smith. Picture: contributed
James Smith. Picture: contributed

Tributes have been paid to a pensioner who died when a house was destroyed in a suspected gas blast in Edinburgh.

James Smith, 84, was killed when the explosion destroyed a neighbouring property in Baberton Mains Avenue on Friday evening. A 43-year-old woman and 54-year-old man were taken to hospital.

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In a statement released through Police Scotland, his family said: "It is with deep regret that our Father/Papa/ Father in Law, James Findlay Smith, sadly lost his life in the tragic events at Baberton Mains Avenue on 1st December 2023.

Aerial views of the suspected gas explosion. Picture: SWNSAerial views of the suspected gas explosion. Picture: SWNS
Aerial views of the suspected gas explosion. Picture: SWNS

“Our thoughts are with everyone involved and our well wishes go to the impacted families.

“We would like to thank the emergency services and the neighbours who went above and beyond for their support and help on the evening and following days.

“We request that you respect our privacy at this time."

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it is focusing its investigation on installations inside the house rather than on the gas network.

An HSE spokesperson said: “The focus of our investigation relates to the internal gas installations at the property and not the network.

“Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the man who sadly lost his life.”

People were evacuated from a number of homes in the area following the blast.

Neighbours said they felt their homes shaking while one person said they heard the explosion from inside a cinema in nearby Wester Hailes.

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The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said five engines attended and two people were rescued from the ruins of the property before their arrival.

A Scottish Gas Networks (SGN) spokesperson said: “After a thorough investigation, the Health and Safety Executive have confirmed the incident in Baberton on Friday night was not related to SGN’s network.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the family of the 84-year-old man who tragically died in this incident.

“Our thoughts also remain with the couple injured as a result of the explosion.

“We initially worked with the emergency services to ensure the immediate vicinity was made safe in our role as the gas emergency service.

“We’re working with Edinburgh Council to offer support to residents evacuated following the explosion.

“We’d like to reassure the local community that their gas supply is safe to use.”

SGN reminded people that if anyone smells gas inside or outside they should call the national gas emergency service on 0800 111 999.

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