MSP among residents evacuated from early morning flats fire

An MSP has told how he and other residents fled a block of flats in a “dramatic” evacuation after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.

One firefighter has sustained minor injuries tackling the blaze, which broke out in Breadalbane Street, Edinburgh, at around 4.10am on Thursday.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said around 70 firefighters, 12 fire appliances and additional specialist resources were at the scene of the “well-developed fire” at a high rise building.

City of Edinburgh Council said around 100 residents are affected and a rest centre for them has been set up at the nearby Leith Community Centre.

The alarm was raised in the early hours of Thursday (Graham Simpson/PA)

Central Scotland MSP Graham Simpson was among those staying in the building at the time.

Speaking at around 8am, he told the PA news agency: “The fire alarm went off and people started evacuating and everybody got out.

“There is a fire in the fifth-floor flat and flames were belching out of that flat, and it has then spread upwards to the sixth floor and the fire is still going on and smoke is belching out. I can still see flames, it appears to have spread to the stairwell.

“Everybody has been evacuated, nobody has been hurt, that’s the main thing, but some people will have lost their homes.

“People got out but it was very dramatic and still is.”

Mr Simpson, a Scottish Conservative MSP, said the fire crews are doing a “fantastic” job but access issues made it more difficult for them as they cannot drive up to the front of the building.

He said: “I think there is a safety issue in that the fire brigade cannot get a fire engine up to the front of these flats because of the way they are designed, so what they’re having to do to get access from the front is actually carry ladders up to the front and put ladders up against balconies, it’s pretty shocking.

“They have managed to drive up round the back, I’ve seen a turntable ladder spraying water into the flats from there, but they cannot get proper access to the front.

“They’ve got into some flats and they’re spraying water from balconies, but right now the fire is still raging.

“The fire brigade should be able to drive up to the front of the building and get a turntable ladder.

“It’s quite ludicrous they are having to carry ladders up and physically put ladders up to balconies. They are doing a fantastic job but the fire is still going.”

The fire service said a firefighter has been injured.

An SFRS spokesperson said: “There are no reported casualties at this time involving members of the public.

“One firefighter has sustained minor injuries and has received treatment from Scottish Ambulance Service at the scene.”

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf praised the response from emergency services.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “My thanks to our emergency services, @fire_scot in particular for their efforts in tackling the fire.

“I am pleased that everyone was evacuated safely and without any serious injuries being reported.

“Nonetheless, a terrifying experience for all of those involved.”

Edinburgh council leader Cammy Day said: “Thankfully everyone has been evacuated to safety, but this is a large-scale fire which is affecting as many as 100 residents.

“We have council and health and social care officers on the scene to support residents, with a rest centre set up at the nearby Leith Community Centre.

“Our roads team has put a small closure in place on Breadalbane Street and we’ll continue to support all agencies and the local community and explore temporary accommodation should it be required.

“I’m very grateful to the emergency services for their ongoing swift response.”