Woman miss­ing af­ter house fire

Po­lice: In­quiries sug­gest 71-year-old was in­side bun­ga­low when fire erupted

The Press and Journal (Highlands & Islands) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAMIE MCKEN­ZIE

Fears were last night grow­ing for a 71-year-old woman who re­mained miss­ing af­ter a ma­jor house fire in In­ver­ness.

Po­lice said that the woman was un­ac­counted for and that ini­tial in­quiries sug­gested she was in­side her bun­ga­low at the time of the blaze – and her fam­ily have been in­formed.

Emer­gency ser­vices were called to the fire at the prop­erty in Is­land Bank road shortly be­fore 2am yes­ter­day morn­ing and neigh­bour­ing res­i­dents were swiftly evac­u­ated.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched as fire­fight­ers worked into the af­ter­noon, while lo­cal coun­cil­lors of­fered their sym­pa­thies to the woman’s fam­ily.

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Steven Macken­zie said: “Our in­quiries are at a very early stage. How­ever, our ini­tial in­quiries sug­gest that an oc­cu­pant was within the prop­erty at the time of the fire.”

A 71-year-old woman re­mained miss­ing last night af­ter a fire broke out in a house near In­ver­ness city cen­tre.

Po­lice said ini­tial in­quiries sug­gested she was in­side the bun­ga­low at the time of the blaze, which erupted at about 1.55am yes­ter­day.

Emer­gency ser­vices were called to the fire on Is­land Bank Road and neigh­bour­ing res­i­dents were evac­u­ated by po­lice amid fears that the flames could spread.

The woman’s next of kin

“I fear the house fire may have claimed this dear lady’s life”

have been made aware and ef­forts are on­go­ing to con­firm the cir­cum­stances.

No one else suf­fered se­ri­ous in­jury.

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Steven Macken­zie said: “Our in­quiries are at a very early stage.

“How­ever, our ini­tial in­quiries sug­gest that an oc­cu­pant was within the prop­erty at the time of the fire.

“Due to the ex­ten­sive struc­tural dam­age, gain­ing en­try to the build­ing is likely to take some time.

“Struc­tural en­gi­neers will as­sess the build­ing and ad­vise when it will be safe to en­ter.

“In­quiries are con­tin­u­ing with the Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice to es­tab­lish the full cir­cum­stances.

“I would like to thank lo­cal res­i­dents for their co-op­er­a­tion while th­ese in­quiries are on­go­ing.

“Our thoughts are with the fam­ily and friends of those in­volved.”

Fire­fight­ers ex­tin­guished the blaze yes­ter­day but were still hos­ing down hot spots at about 11am – and in­ves­ti­ga­tions were be­ing car­ried out dur­ing the af­ter­noon.

The roof of the bun­ga­low home, of 1960s Dor­ran con­struc­tion, was com­pletely de­stroyed, and the black­ened in­te­ri­ors of each room re­flected the scale of the fire.

A fire ser­vice spokes­woman said at its height, four ap­pli­ances were on scene and fire­fight­ers wore breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus while us­ing high-pow­ered hoses to ex­tin­guish the blaze.

Neigh­bour­ing Is­land Court res­i­dent Geral­dine Con­nah said she and her hus­band were wo­ken in their pent­house apart­ment at about 2.30am by a knock at the door from po­lice.

She said: “There were about three or four am­bu­lances there last night.

“They evac­u­ated this build­ing be­cause it’s be­hind the house and the fire was in dan­ger of blow­ing across.

“Po­lice were re­ally pro­fes­sional and very calm and they were try­ing to sort out a refuge for us should it be re­quired. We were back in­side by about 4am.”

In­ver­ness Cen­tral ward coun­cil­lor Bet McAl­lis­ter said: “It does not look good and it’s very tragic for the fam­ily.

“The house went up so quickly and there was very lit­tle that could be done.

“By the time they were alerted and got down there, the roof was al­ready com­ing in.”

Fel­low ward coun­cil­lor Janet Camp­bell said: “As the oc­cu­pant of the house re­mains un­ac­counted for, I greatly fear that the house fire may have claimed this dear lady’s life.

“Should this be the case, my heart goes out to her fam­ily and friends.”

Crown and City Cen­tre com­mu­nity coun­cil chair­woman Pat Hay­den said: “I am very sorry to hear of this sad news.”

Pho­to­graph by Sandy McCook

BLAZE: Fire­fight­ers deal with the overnight fire in a house at Is­land Bank Road, In­ver­ness.

IN­QUIRIES ON­GO­ING: Fire­fight­ers deal with the house blaze on Is­land Bank Road in In­ver­ness, which erupted at about 1.55am yes­ter­day

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