He­roes run into build­ing as blaze rips through flats

The Oban Times - - News - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­times.co.uk

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.

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