Man trapped in wheelchair dies after horror blaze

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By Rory Reynolds

A WHEELCHAIR bound pensioner died after catching fire while trapped in a blaze at a sheltered housing complex.

Firefighters found helpless John Steele still ablaze after bursting into his home in Edinburgh’s Queen’s Bay Crescent.

The 63-year-old was doused by fire crews and rushed to hospital but died later from his injuries.

Other elderly residents were evacuated after the fire broke out within the first floor flat at around 12.15pm on Saturday.

Firefighters rushed to the scene in the Joppa area shortly after an automatic alarm linked to the fire brigade went off.

Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service said Mr Steele was unable to help or rescue himself once the flames took hold.

Escape

Andrew Whitelaw, watch manager at Newcraighall Fire Station, said: “The rest of the residents had already been evacuated or moved to safer parts of the building, and when we went inside we discovered the man in question was on fire.

“They carried out work to get him out of the flat and get the fire extinguished as quickly as possible.

“He was in a wheelchair so he was unable to escape or help himself.

“We followed all of the proper procedures but unfortunately the degree of fire was quite severe and subsequently the man died.”

The Trust Housing Association, which manages the complex, has expressed its “deep regret” over the death of Mr Steele.

Investigation

George Veryan, depute chief executive, added: “We had a visit from the fire investigators and we are still awaiting the outcome of the fire investigation.

“The fire was contained within the flat and other residents were evacuated from the building after the automatic alarm system went off.”

Lothian and Borders Police have said there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the blaze.

The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined.

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