Two firefighters injured in flats blaze as around 100 people evacuated


Two firefighters have been injured tackling a blaze at a block of flats which led to the homes of 100 people – including an MSP – being evacuated.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said two firefighters sustained minor injuries tackling the blaze, which broke out in Breadalbane Street, Edinburgh, at around 4.10am on Thursday.

The service 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 and the blaze is now “contained”.

SFRS said in a statement: “Around 100 people were safely evacuated and all people are accounted for. There are no reported casualties involving members of the public.

“Two firefighters have sustained minor superficial injuries and have been assessed at the scene by the Scottish Ambulance Service. They do not require hospital treatment.”

City of Edinburgh Council said a rest centre for affected residents 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 were 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.”

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.”

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions later on Thursday about the incident, Mr Yousaf added: “Can I also add my thanks to the emergency services, in particular Scottish Fire and Rescue, for their efforts.

“And of course their efforts saw everybody – including Graham Simpson who was there – evacuated safely and without injury, so I’m very pleased to see that.”

While the situation was still “evolving” as he spoke, Mr Yousaf said it is “important” the Scottish Government continues to fund the fire service, touting an increase in its budget from £364.1 million last year to £393.4 million for the coming year.

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.”

SFRS said the fire initially spread to adjacent flats on the same floor and above, but is now contained to one area.

SFRS deputy assistant chief officer Andy Girrity, the officer in charge, said: “The fire is contained and firefighting operations remain ongoing to bring this incident to a safe conclusion.

“This has been a complex incident which involved the evacuation of a large number of people.

“Our crews have worked tirelessly to contain this fire and prevent further spread within the building.

“There is a large-scale emergency service presence and we will remain on the scene for a considerable time.

“I would strongly advise members of the public to avoid the area.”

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) Scottish secretary John McKenzie said: “Our thoughts are with the residents and firefighters involved in this significant incident, which saw over 70 firefighters, 12 fire appliances and a specialist high-reach vehicle in attendance throughout the night.

“The FBU will support all of our members involved and work with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in any future investigation.”