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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 22:14 GMT
Care home blaze toll rises to 14
A 14th resident of the care home has died
The death toll from the blaze at a nursing home in North Lanarkshire has risen to 14 after two elderly residents died in hospital on Monday.

Ten people died after the blaze at the Rosepark Care Home on Saturday and two died on Sunday.

One victim of the fire died in hospital on Monday morning and a second woman died on Monday night. Three other residents remain in hospital.

Strathclyde Police released names of nine of the victims on Monday.

A staff nurse at the Uddingston home has told how vital seconds were lost locating the fire.

Thick smoke

Staff nurse Isabel Queen, who was in charge of the North Lanarkshire care home, said: "The fire alarm went off and it's a zone system.

"We went up and checked the zone, we checked downstairs in the obvious places, the laundry and the various rooms downstairs and we couldn't see anything, so we went back up the stairs.

"I went back to the fire alarm and I silenced it and it just went off straight away within minutes again and it was a different zone.

Floral tributes
Cards and flowers have been left at the scene
"So we walked up the corridor to open the fire door that was shut. We pushed open the first fire door and there was just smoke everywhere."

Ms Queen said it was "extremely difficult" to evacuate the residents because of the thick smoke.

"We tried to get through. Me and a colleague had pads on our faces but we couldn't see anything, we couldn't get through, the smoke was just pushing us back", she said.

"You could feel it in your lungs, there was no way we could have got through."

The names of nine of those who died were released on Monday after post mortem examinations were completed.

Tom Cook, 95
Helen Crawford, 84
Margaret Lappin, 83
Mary McKenner, 82
Isobel MacLachlan, 93
Julia McRoberts, 90
Helen Milne, 82
Anna Stirrat, 82
Annie Thompson, 84

Two other residents are in a stable condition in Glasgow Royal Infirmary and a third resident is stable in Wishaw General Hospital.

Strathclyde firemaster Jeff Ord praised the response of the emergency services to the fire.

He said the investigation into the blaze would look at the cause of the fire, the alarm system and how the smoke was able to travel speedily into the bedrooms.

"I believe the police are already looking at the circumstances of has any work been done on the system in recent months," he said.

"That would highlight if any new panel has been fitted, so that is something the police will be looking at."

The scene of the fire
Fire and police investigators are carrying out inquiries
Mr Ord said the cause of the fire centred around a small cupboard on the first floor of the home.

There are also concerns that the alarm system may not have operated efficiently or properly, he said.

The head of Scotland's care homes body said that sprinklers would not have averted a fire which he called "a freak and tragic occurrence".

Joe Campbell, chief executive of Scottish Care, also warned that care homes would not be able to bear the burden of any further regulations, such as requiring owners to install sprinklers.

But Scottish National Party justice spokesperson Michael Matheson said the tragedy demonstrated why his proposals at Holyrood for all care homes to have sprinklers should be passed.

Isobel MacLachlan
Isobel MacLachlan was among the victims of the fire
His bill, which was lodged in the Scottish Parliament in November, would require all houses of multiple occupation and sheltered housing operators to install sprinklers.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said the executive would look at the bill "very carefully".

"The important thing is to get the facts about what happened here in relation to this tragic incident," she added.

"We will be presenting a report to cabinet on Wednesday and then will look to see if any further action is required as a result of knowing the facts of the situation."

She said that First Minister Jack McConnell had asked her and Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm to prepare a report on the Uddingston blaze for Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

BBC Scotland's Gillian Millar
"The consequences of the fire are vast for all care homes"

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