Teenager’s quick thinking averts care home tragedy

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A LEVEN teenager has spoken of the terrifying moments when a local nursing home appeared just minutes away from being engulfed by flames.

Waid Academy pupil Haig Paterson, of Forman Road, was walking his dog on Wednesday evening just after 9.30pm when he spotted a small fire at the back of the town’s Leven Beach Nursing Home.

However, by the time the 16-year-old had contacted the emergency services, the fire, believed to have been started when old mattresses and beds were deliberately set alight, began to really catch hold.

Haig, whose actions have been hailed by mum Joanna, told the Mail: “I was in the Festival Gardens when I noticed the mattresses were burning.

“At first I thought they were just getting rid of some old rubbish, but it was far too close to the building.

“I knew there were people inside so phoned 999.

“The fire caught on really quickly and the flames were licking the roof and the window frames were breaking.”

The fire service arrived at the home and managed to get the potential disaster under control, while nursing home staff ushered residents outside.

Ian Gilbertson, Fife Fire and Rescue Service station manager, urged commercial and personal property owners to do their best to dispose quickly of old materials that may attract fire-bugs.

He added: “We would absolutely condemn the actions of anybody who would set fires and behave in this way.”

Carol Anne Foote, area manager of Meallmore Ltd., which owns the home, that can accommodate up to 50 residents, said nobody had been hurt in the incident but there was some damage to the structure.

She added: “Staff responded immediately by contacting the emergency services and implementing our fire response procedure to ensure residents and staff within the area were evacuated safely and promptly.

“Two rooms were affected, resulting in some external damage to the building.

“The residents of these rooms have been safely relocated in the care home.

“Staff contacted the relatives of residents who were temporarily evacuated as soon as possible and all residents’ families have now been updated.

“We will assist the police as they carry out an investigation.”

A spokesman for Fife police said they were appealing for anyone who was either in the area of Leven Promenade who may have witnessed this incident, or have any information which may assist enquiries, to call 0845 600 5702. Alternatively a call can be made to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where it will be treated anonymously.