By Kirsty Topping
THE FIRE which killed an off-duty firefighter may have been started by a cigarette, it emerged today.
Paul Fleming,39, died at his home in East Linton, East Lothian on Saturday morning.
A source close to the investigation said a cigarette as a cause was “one line of enquiry”.
Firefighters were called to the property in Longstone Avenue after a member of the public reported smoke billowing from the property around 7am.
They spent three hours tackling the blaze but were unable to save the father-of-two and he died at the scene.
It is thought he had been on a night out with friends the previous evening.
Mr Fleming, a firefighter based in Dalkeith, was well-known in his community.
His family paid tribute to him and said they have been left
“devastated’ by his death.
In a statement, they said:
“We are all completely devastated by Paul’s death. He was loved by his family and will be greatly missed.
“Paul loved his job and was hugely popular amongst his colleagues. He always went out of his way to help people, and was well known in the local community for his kindness and willingness to always help others.
“He was a hero to his two children, and a wonderful father. “
Mr Fleming leaves behind two children, Isla and Lewis, who are believed to be nine and 11.
He had recently split from his wife Diane, a local police officer.
One local resident, who asked not to be named, is reported as saying:
“He was incredibly popular. Paul was a smoker, and we heard the fire had been caused that was. It is a horrible situation. “
Barry Craighead, 73, a retired joiner, worked with Paul in the local community hall.
“This is a tragedy for the whole street. I knew Paul very well, he was a terrific guy and very good in the community.
“He was a brilliant neighbour and a brilliant friend. Everybody is upset. “
While Paul is thought to have been living away from the marital home, he returned their following his night out. His wife and children were away for the night, which Mr Craighead added was a
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Chief Officer Alex Clark said: “It was with great sadness and regret that I informed staff of the tragic death of Paul Fleming from Dalkeith White Watch.
“The off-duty firefighter lost his life in a fire at home. Despite the best efforts of our colleagues from East Linton and Haddington, he sadly died at the scene.
“We offer our most heartfelt condolences to his family, loved ones and all who knew him at this sad time.”
It took firefighters Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service three hours to bring the blaze under control after it took hold on Saturday morning.
AspokeswomanforLothianand Borders Fire and Rescue Service said: “Investigations are being carried out.
“We are working with police to establish the cause of the fire.”
It is understood that many of the firemen who attended the incident were Mr Fleming’s work colleagues.