Safety advice to family helped avert disaster

A FOSTER family was given fire safety advice just weeks before their front door was torched by fireraisers, it has emerged.

Lynda McKenzie, 52, and her husband William decided to arrange for the safety check as they are acting as foster parents to a five-year-old boy at their home in Pilton Avenue.

And the advice proved to be invaluable when a vandal pushed a flaming Lucozade bottle stuffed with rags through their letterbox on Wednesday night.

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Mr McKenzie placed a towel at the door at the top of the stairs to stop smoke spreading, then went to the window for ventilation and to attract the attention of the fire crew.

Neighbour John Tait, meanwhile, knocked the burning bottle from the letterbox.

Mr McKenzie, 56, a sales advisor for Screwfix, said: "My wife is a full-time foster carer and we're always looking for ways to keep the house secure.

"We decided to call the fire brigade in for a free fire safety check around six weeks ago, and they went through the house, checked all the doors and replaced the fire alarms, and also gave us advice on what to do if there was a fire in the house.

"I have no idea why our house was targeted. We've lived in this house for 23 years, and been in the area for about 35 years, but we don't really speak to anyone in the street apart from our immediate neighbours.

"Police suggested that it could be related to the time of year, when kids are fascinated by fire in the run up to Bonfire Night, but it would be pretty extreme torching a stranger's door for kicks."

Mr McKenzie told how their foster child had been playing with their two-year-old granddaughter shortly before the fireraisers struck.

The couple had just put him to bed at around 8.30pm when the smoke alarm went off.

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He added: "I grabbed the wee man and brought him into the living room, and then I just opened all of the windows wide and started screaming for help.

"One of the neighbours is a roofer and he had a fire extinguisher, so he came and put the fire out and then just as I was throwing him down the keys to open the door the fire brigade arrived. They lifted the wee man out of the window with a ladder and he was taken to hospital. We were all checked over but we're fine because we followed all of the safety advice and acted so quickly."

A spokeswoman from Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue said: "It was wilful fire- raising and a full investigation is taking place."

A police spokesman said an investigation was underway and appealed for witnesses.