Tragedy as Fauldhouse fire claims woman’s life


Fauldhouse FireBy Michael MacLeod

A BARMAID believes she is “jinxed” after a woman cried on her shoulder before dying in a fire just minutes later.

Ann Forrest, 46, perished in a house fire in Fauldhouse yesterday (Friday) morning amid circumstances which police are still investigating.

Neighbours tried to smash their way into the house but couldn’t get to Ms Forrest due to the intense heat.

She was described as “emotional and lost” by the West Lothian village’s Masonic lodge barmaid Audrey Conner, 44, who was one of the last people to see her.
In a tragic coincidence, Mrs Conner was also the last person to see Matthew Carty – a 43-year-old Fauldhouse man who was found dead in woods in January.

She said Ms Forrest told her she was mourning the death of her sister Elizabeth who, records show, died of a “possible drug overdose” on Christmas day in 2002, aged 41.

Mrs Conner said: “I was locking up the pub at ten past midnight when I saw a woman sitting on the pavement right outside, so I asked if she was okay.

“She was sober but very upset, saying she had just been at her sister’s grave in Whitburn.

“She told me her name was Ann, and asked if she could sleep in the bar. I offered to phone for a taxi for her but she said, “I’ve nowhere to go, nobody loves me.”

“I couldn’t just leave her there so phoned police, who came ten minutes later but Ann had disappeared.

“Next thing I know there’s been a huge fire literally around the corner, and she was dead.

“I’m trying to tell myself I did everything I could to look after her, but I just had no idea that she would be in such trouble so soon after.

“It’s absolutely tragic. She gave me a hug and cried on my shoulder, but wouldn’t let me take her home.”
The tragedy brought back haunting memories for Mrs Conner, who told of how she remembered seeing dad-of-three Matthew Carty shortly before he was reported missing and found dead five days later.

She said: “It makes you wonder if there’s a jinx on this bar.

“I think it’s maybe just that in my type of job, people confide in you when they are feeling down.”

The 12.30am fire is believed to have happened in one of Ms Forrest’s friends’ home, at 9 Main Street.

Neighbour James Conner, 21, tried to save Ms Forrest, but was overwhelmed by the heat.

He said: “I got woken up by a man trying to get into the house, and he was shouting “help me get in, there’s someone inside”.

“I ran out to help him but it was a total inferno.

“I think there was a lot of shouting before that but I’ve got no idea if that was him or the woman who died and somebody else.”

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “Inquiries are at a very early stage and we do not yet have the full details as to how this fire started.

“Anyone who was in the area at the time and can provide us with information that can assist us with our investigation should contact police immediately.”