Staff carry residents from burning building as flames rip through roof

Tributes have been paid after a community rallied round to help evacuate elderly residents from a burning care home.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 24th August 2017, 10:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:05 pm
Firefighters used two aerial platforms to tackle the blaze which badly damaged the care home where over 50 elderly and vulnerable people were residents. Picture: Michael Gillen
Firefighters used two aerial platforms to tackle the blaze which badly damaged the care home where over 50 elderly and vulnerable people were residents. Picture: Michael Gillen

Forth Bay Nursing Home went up in flames on Monday afternoon with around 50 vulnerable and elderly people in the building.

Staff were helped to get all the residents to safety by neighbours, passers-by and drinkers in nearby pubs.

Many were bedridden and had to be taken from the two-storey building in special chairs and beds, with some carried downstairs by staff.

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William Little, whose 91-year-old father, William senior, has been a resident in Forth Bay since April, said: “It’s a miracle no-one was killed or badly hurt. Everyone did a remarkable job.”

Nine fire appliances and two aerial platforms were rushed to the scene when the alarm was raised at 3.19pm.

A command support unit and fire investigators were also drafted in to help with 60 firefighters on the scene at the height of the blaze.

However, by the time fire crews arrived all the residents had been evacuated.

The main blaze was out by 6pm.

Five people were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Speaking moments after the main seat of the fire had been extinguished, area manager Roddie Keith said: “I would like to pay tribute to our crews.

“They did a tremendous job in dealing with an extensive fire, ultimately bringing this incident to a swift conclusion.

“I would also like to thank our emergency service partners at Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance Service as well as the nursing home staff and the local authority.

“I must also acknowledge the people of this community who assisted the nursing home residents by helping to take them to a place of safety. Their care and compassion is to be thoroughly commended.”

The residents were given immediate shelter in nearby pubs and the community centre until alternative accommodation could be found for them.

Mr Little’s partner, Becky Little of Airth, said: “Everyone was amazing. Many of the old people were upset but the kindness shown was remarkable.

“The sparks had made holes in their clothing but people were turning up with clothes and blankets for them, as well as bringing sandwiches and hot food.”

By 10pm the residents were all taken to new accommodation, many of them to the recently built Napier House care home in Glenrothes.

Michael Kellet, Fife Council’s director of health and social care, praised everyone involved in the recovery operation including Kincardine Community Association and council staff.

He said: “I’d like to thank them all for their dedication. Due to everyone’s swift thinking, actions and planning we very quickly had arrangements in place to manage this challenging situation.

The cause of the blaze, which has destroyed two of the four units within the home, is still being investigated.

Residents lose all their possessions

A question mark hangs over the future of the fire-ravaged care home.

Two of the four units have been completely destroyed with damage to the remainder of the building.

Families of residents who have been moved to a home in Glenrothes have been told they will remain there for the “forseeable future”.

However, many of the elderly and vulnerable people being cared for in Forth Bay have lost all their possessions.

Becky Little, whose father-in-law was rescued from the burning building, said: “One old lady was asking about her wedding photographs and we had to tell her they had gone.”

Since 2005, and following a fire in an Uddingston care home in 2004 when 14 elderly residents perished, all new build care homes, sheltered housing and high rise homes must have a sprinkler system fitted.

However, as this property was constructed prior to 2005 it was not covered by the legislation.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, MSP for Dunfermline and West Fife who covers Kincardine, visited the scene on Monday.

She said: “I understand that investigations are ongoing into the cause of the fire. I cannot thank the emergency services enough for their rapid response to this incident, as well as Fife Council officials.

The Kincardine community have also been fantastic. They have banded together to provide much-needed support to the elderly residents, including emergency soup stations. Kincardine is a stellar example of a kind and caring community, that has come together to tackle adversity.

The owners of Forth Bay Nursing Home, Caring Homes, had failed to provide a response as The Falkirk Herald went to press.