Brave hero of Grangemouth fire

Picture: Michael Gillen
Picture: Michael Gillen
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A brave dad-of-two raced into a burning building to raise the alarm and help people escape from smoke and flames.

Darren McNiven (38) helped usher eight adults and children to safety – as well as their pet cats and a dog.

Sadly, a man in the property where the fire is understood to have started could not be rescued.

He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Two women were taken to Forth Valley Royal Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation after the early morning fire on Friday, January 12.

Darren, who lives near Grangemouth’s Avon Street where the fire broke out, this week admitted that he was still struggling to come to terms with terrible early morning events.

He said: “It’s difficult not to think about it. I keep having flashbacks and it all seems a bit surreal.”

On the day of the tragedy Darren was in bed when, at around 2.30am, he heard a repetitive noise.

“I thought it was one of the kids’ alarms and got up to switch it off,” he explained. However, the further I got away from the back bedroom, the fainter the sound became.

“I went back upstairs and looked out the window which is when I saw the orange glow coming from the house in Avon Street.

“After throwing some clothes on I ran out with the idea that I would do what I could to help.

“I was expecting there to be other people but the street was empty. Then I spotted a woman standing in the hall of this burning building.

“My first thought was to get her out and I ran in. There was smoke everywhere but I managed to help her get outside.”

Darren then began shouting and banging on the doors of the other three properties in the block to alert them to the danger.

He added: “There was one couple with two children, as well as others.

“There were explosions sounding and it was impossible to get to the man who was still in the building.

“Then I heard the sirens and the fire service turned up. They were then able to take over.”

Darren’s wife Lindsay arrived as he was being checked over by paramedics.

“They wanted me to go to hospital straight away but I wanted them to look after those who were in more need,” he said.

However, he later needed to go to the Larbert hospital because of the effects of the smoke inhalation.

He is now recovering at home with Lindsay and children Sophie (17) and Kieran (11), who are all proud of his brave efforts.

Darren added: “I really didn’t think about the danger at the time. It was more a case of doing what I could.”

A joint investigation into the cause of the blaze is still being carried by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland.

David Lockhart, local senior officer with the fire and rescue service, said: “We were alerted at 2.42am on Friday, January 12 to reports of a dwelling fire.

“Operations Control immediately mobilised three fire appliances to Avon Street, Grangemouth, where firefighters extinguished the fire.

“Sadly a man was found to have passed away at the scene and our thoughts are with all of those who are affected at this time.

“Two female casualties were taken to Forth Valley Hospital by the Scottish 
Ambulance Service suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.”

Latest figures show that in Scotland in 2016-17 there were 44 fatal casualties in fires.

This equates to 8.1 per million population and is higher in Scotland than in England (4.7) and Wales (6.1).