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I'm no hero, says man who helped residents flee burning flat

Andrew McQuater raised the alarm as a blaze started to rip through a tenement flat in Edinburgh.

By Jenness Mitchell and Kaye Nicolson 

A man who risked his life to help residents flee a fire at a tenement flat has insisted he is not a hero.

Andrew McQuater raced into action as the blaze began to rip through the four-storey building following an explosion in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh.

Along with two other men, the electrician forced his way into the building to alert the people inside.

He told STV News: "I've done nothing heroic there - that's just what anyone would have done."

The incident happened at around 5pm on Tuesday as Mr McQuater made his way home from work.

'I've done nothing heroic there - that's just what anyone would have done.'
Andrew McQuater

Following a "massive explosion", Mr McQuater was forced to do an emergency stop as fallen bricks smashed on the road in front of him.

Describing the moment, he said: "I'm in total shock - I've got no idea what's going on because it's happened about a metre in front of the van as I was driving along at 20mph.

"Emergency stopped right in front of it.

"The next thing I know the whole van is covered in dust. I can't see out any of the windows."

Edinburgh: Andrew McQuater raised the alarm.
Edinburgh: Andrew McQuater raised the alarm. STV

After spotting the blaze, Mr McQuater ran over to the building's door to join two other men, one of which was a joiner, in their attempts to gain entry.

Mr McQuater said: "The joiner's got a hammer out, he's started clawing away at the side of the doors trying to break his way in.

"Obviously we're all shoulder-barging the door."

Once the trio gained access, they ran up several flights of stairs to the affected flat.

Mr McQuater said: "But there was a strong smell of gas, so obviously for our safety reasons we didn't want to be in there in case another explosion did happen.

"Obviously, pretty frightening stuff.

"And as we were running back down we were shouting 'fire' and banging on all the doors as we were going down."

Mr McQuater - who returned to work on Wednesday - was stuck at the scene for several hours after the emergency services blocked his van in.

He said: "Obviously I'm not wanting to disturb them while they're doing their business."

Mr McQuater praised the firefighters as well as the other two men who helped to break into the building.

He added: "A few more seconds or me driving a wee bit faster - that would have been it, the whole van would have been crushed.

"They were big bricks, they were metre-sections of bricks that came flying off the side of the building.

"It was pretty scary."

https://stv.tv/news/east-central/1440679-body-found-by-firefighters-after-explosion-in-tenement-flat/ | default

On Wednesday, police confirmed that a body had been found following the fire.

After extinguishing the blaze, firefighters recovered the remains on the second floor during their search of the building.

Chief inspector Scott Richardson said: "Our thoughts at this time remain with the relatives of the person who has sadly passed away.

"Officers and firefighters remain at the scene whilst the building is assessed for structural damage.

"The explosion and fire has caused significant damage to the building and Fountainbridge will remain closed for the foreseeable.

"I would ask that members of the public avoid the area, where possible.

"A joint investigation will be carried out in due course by police and the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service to determine the cause of the fire, which is not currently thought to be suspicious."

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