Heroes run into building as blaze rips through flats
AT LEAST three people were rescued from flats on Oban’s George Street after a fire spread from the chip shop below on Tuesday morning.
Acting quickly when he heard about the fire, Alasdair McBurnie the manager of a neighbouring shop, and a taxi driver who was a resident of the building, helped sleeping shift workers escape the blaze.
Mr McBurnie, manager of Timpson’s shoe repair, key cutting and engraving shop across the road, said: ‘I was talking to Dave the bin man when a customer came up to us and said it looks like that building is on fire.
‘It looked like there was smoke starting to come out of the top of the building. I knew there was no way that this could be a chimney fire.
‘I ran to the back of the building and it was then that I shouted for someone to phone the fire brigade.
‘I turned round and started battering the close door and pressing the buzzers.
‘My next worry was that there were people in the building – there are a number of flats up there, and people work shifts.
‘When I finally managed to open the door, smoke came pouring out.
‘I was waiting to let it clear when a taxi driver [Tom Mackay], who stays in one of the flats, came up behind me. He said, “There is a man in there who was on night shift and is still sleeping”.
‘He ran straight in. I knew I had to make sure there was no-one in the building so I went inside and I started banging the flat doors.’
Mr McBurnie found a number of people who were still in bed as they had been working night shifts. He told them to get out.
In one flat he found a woman who was banging on the door trying to get out. Mr MacIntyre said the room was ‘full of smoke’.
The men made their way through the three-storey building making sure everyone was out of the building. Mr McBurnie continued: ‘People were in bed and sleeping. At one door I didn’t get any reply and I don’t know what made me do it but I just opened the door. Inside there was a young man sleeping.’
He said: ‘In no time at all the fire brigade were there and checked the building fully. It was lucky it happened during the day or it might not have been spotted so quickly.’
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was onsite for a number of hours while the police worked to re-open the road, managing traffic which was backed up for at least two miles to the cemetery at Pennyfuir.
A police spokesman said: ‘People who live in the flats above were evacuated for most of the day.’
It is believed residents were allowed to return home in the early evening.
Eye-witnesses said there was extensive smoke and fire damage to the homes. Some debris from the buildings was thrown onto the street by firefighters.
The police spokesman confirmed that no-one was injured in the fire and inquiries are ongoing into the cause.
A spokesperson for the SFRS said: ‘Firefighters were in attendance at a fire in commercial premises in Oban.
‘Four fire appliances were mobilised at 11.20am on Tuesday June 6 to the incident in George Street. Both appliances from Oban attended, as well as an aerial appliance from Clyde- bank and an appliance from Inveraray. They used powerful hoses on the fire and worked at the scene until just before 5pm.
‘I believe it was the extraction system in the ground floor at the chip shop. It had spread to the first floor flat.
‘Crews cut away parts of the building to make sure the fire hadn’t spread.
‘We have received no notification of any casualties.’
Taxi driver Tom Mackay said he was glad everyone was safe.
Charred debris lies on the George Street pavement as emergency services tackle the fire.