Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 15:06 UK

Firefighter killed in pub blaze


Brian Allaway, chief fire officer of Lothian and Borders Fire and rescue describes the blaze

A firefighter has died while tackling a blaze in an Edinburgh pub.

More than 20 people, including a baby, had to be rescued from the multi-storey tenement block above the Balmoral in Dalry Road.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue (LBFR) said the firefighter died after a floor collapsed on the basement bar.

Another firefighter was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh with non-life threatening injuries. He was later released after treatment.

The fire service was alerted at 0038 BST and officers arrived to find a "severe" fire raging in the bar.

Map showing Balmoral bar
Dalry Road is one of the main roads into Edinburgh city centre

At a news conference LBFR's chief fire officer Brian Allaway said it was a very difficult fire to deal with.

He said: "Our crews on arrival were confronted with a very severe fire, and whilst tackling that fire, a breathing apparatus crew of two firefighters were injured by the collapse of an internal floor.

"Tragically and despite the best efforts of all his colleagues at the incident one of those firefighters lost his life."

He added: "Our service is a very close knit community and we are all absolutely devastated by this loss. The thoughts of every single member of this service are with the firefighter's family. This is a tragic day for us."

Mr Allaway also said the people who were rescued from properties above the Balmoral Pub owed their lives to the bravery of the firefighter who died and his colleagues.

Picture of the incident on Dalry Road submitted by David Lithgow
About 70 firefighters were involved in tackling the fatal blaze

He said: "I think certainly that the people who were rescued would not have been rescued if that individual had not been there together with his colleagues."

David Lithgow, who lives in the same building as the pub, said that about 0230 BST firefighters started breaking windows at the front of the pub and taking hoses through stair wells into the garden.

He said: "They started to break down the back door of the pub - they went in with breathing apparatus - there was lots of action in the back garden.

"The firemen used angle grinders to cut off metal grilles on windows and paramedics came through with a stretcher - then they pulled a firefighter out from a back window. They weren't treating him and covered him with a blanket, it was obvious it was a serious incident."

Emily Davies, 28, and her boyfriend Andy Greenhalgh, 25, were asleep in bed when the fire broke out.

Emily Davies: "The room was starting to fill up with was pretty scary"

Ms Davies said: "It was about 12 o'clock. Andy woke up because of all the noise with the fire engines. We looked outside and there was all this chaos in the street. We got up and when we went into the hall there was smoke coming under the door.

"That's when we started to panic. We shut ourselves in the lounge and had to open the windows just to try to get some fresh air

"We were just hanging out the windows basically. The room was starting to fill up with smoke. It was pretty scary. The fire brigade had to get a ladder up to us and take us out the window. "

Ms Davies, a student, said firefighters also rescued their 13-week-old puppy Alfie by taking him down a ladder.

Mr Allaway said there would be a full investigation into the incident. Police said it was too early to say whether or not there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding the blaze.

The building was still alight, with 16 appliances and around 70 firefighters at the scene on Sunday morning.

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