Quick-thinking pilot saves the day


By Paul Thornton

AN EAGLE-EYED pilot helped save residents from an explosive blaze after spotting the danger from thousands of feet up while coming in to land.

The aircraft was over West Lothian on its way to land at Edinburgh Airport when its captain spotted flames shooting into the night sky shortly after 11pm on Wednesday.

He immediately radioed the airport control tower who scrambled emergency services to the scene of the fire at Coxydene Farm in East Calder.

Rescuers evacuated two nearby cottages as firefighters fought to douse flames engulfing up to five highly explosive cylinders containing liquid petroleum gas and acetylene.

Such was the ferocity of the blaze that seven crews – around 40 firefighters in all – were needed to battle the blaze shortly after 11pm on Wednesday.

Several remained at the scene yesterday while police were forced to shut off the nearby A71 road for fear of potential explosion from the red hot cylinders.

Paramedics were also on stand-by for much of the incident before eventually being stood down.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman confirmed they were only alerted to the drama by the quick-thinking pilot.

A spokesman said: “The incident was spotted by a pilot and we received a call from Air Traffic Control at Edinburgh Airport at 11.30pm.

“The A71 was closed at 11.50pm at the junction with the B7015 to the Camps Industrial Estate.

“It is thought the value of the damage caused is likely to be high.”

A Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said there biggest fear had been the threat caused by the gas cylinders.

She added: “We received as call at 11.12pm about a large area of wooden crates and pallets which was well alight at Coxydene Farm in East Calder.

“The fire had spread to three shed containing cylinders of LPG and acetylene, because of these cylinders there will be a cordon around the area.

“The residents of Glenetive Cottage were evacuated, we do not know if there have been any other evacuations.

“We will continue cooling the cylinders for some time.”

The Scottish Ambulance Service said they stayed on scene for around five hours until the immediate danger had passed.

A spokeswoman added: “Two rapid response units were in attendance but there were no persons reported as requiring treatment and we remained on scene until 4.55am.”

A Nation Air Traffic Services spokesman confirmed a private plane pilot had called in the emergency.

She said: “The tower at Edinburgh did get a call from a general aviation pilot that there was a fire near Livingston which the tower reported to police.

“It is standard protocol to alert the authorities to any potential situations.”