Neighbour saves woman from burning building after deadly house explosion

Scene at Baberton Mains Avenue, Edinburgh. (SWNS)
Scene at Baberton Mains Avenue, Edinburgh. (SWNS) (National World / SWNS)

A neighbour has described the moment he rescued a woman from rubble after a gas explosion killed a pensioner.

Steven MacLennan, 50, pulled a 43-year-old woman from the burning building in Edinburgh on Friday after a man, 84, was killed in the blast that rocked homes in Baberton.

The pensioner who died was named locally as James Smith.

Army reservist MacLennan said he was relaxing at home when he heard the explosion at around 10.25pm.

He then ran to the nearby street of Baberton Mains Avenue and discovered the blast had destroyed a home.

After hearing cries for help, he went into the burning debris through a gap and found a woman trapped on the floor under the rubble and helped her escape.

Emergency services confirmed two people, aged 43 and 54, were taken to hospital for treatment following the blast.

Other neighbours helped a man to safety while creating a path for MacLennan and the woman before emergency services arrived.

Steven MacLennan heroically pulled neighbour from rubble. (SWNS)
Steven MacLennan heroically pulled neighbour from rubble. (SWNS)

Shocking pictures show the aftermath of the explosion, which caused the two-story property to be reduced to rubble.

Images from the scene on Friday night showed the end terrace house had been completely destroyed.

Several properties have been evacuated from the street and emergency services remain on the scene.

Locals have been urged to stay away on Saturday morning.

Police Scotland said there were currently no suspicious circumstances concerning the incident.

A spokeswoman for gas distributor SGN said it was brought in to help emergency services and “ensure the immediate vicinity” was “made safe”.

Aerial views of a suspected gas explosion at a house blast in Edinburgh. (SWNS)
Aerial views of a suspected gas explosion at a house blast in Edinburgh. (SWNS) (Airborne Imagery UK / SWNS)

'Carnage and chaos'

MacLennan described the chaotic incident,saying: "We were just watching TV when we heard this incredibly loud bang.

"All the doors and windows in the house shook. I came out the house and there were quite a few people in the street already. Whatever it was had happened in a street round the corner, so I ran to find out what was going on.

"It was just carnage. People running about in chaos. Like being in a bubble. But my training did help. I shouted at her to ask if she could feel the fire, and she said she could.

"There was a pipe which was gushing out water and I was able to bend it and direct the water onto the flames.

"It was quite a flexible pipe, and I was able to douse the flames and put them out before they could get to her.

"She was still pinned - I think there was a cupboard on her legs. I was able to get it off, but she was still trapped. I asked her if she could move her legs and she could, and she was able to crawl out."

Scene at Baberton Mains Avenue. (SWNS)
Scene at Baberton Mains Avenue. (SWNS) (National World / SWNS)

Some locals reported hearing the explosion as far away as Gilmerton, a suburb miles from 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.

One person wrote on social media: "Explosion couple of streets away but whole house shook. Felt like someone had crashed into car in drive or fallen on roof.

"Everyone just came out of houses wondering what had happened."

Others paid tribute to the victims and shared their grief at the loss of the elderly pensioner.

They added: "Heartbreaking! Rest in peace."

Another said: "RIP, thoughts to family friends and neighbours and safe recovery to others."

Cammy Day, leader of Edinburgh City Council, added: “This is incredibly sad news for the city and all of our thoughts are with those affected.

“We’re very grateful to the emergency services who responded so quickly and tirelessly last night, evacuating the scene and making the surrounding area safe."

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