A man set fire to a room in a homeless hostel – causing a “very real” danger to life and forcing half of Dundee’s fire resources to be dispatched to the scene for three hours.
Alistair Christie, 31, later told police he had started hallucinating about insects crawling around the floor after taking what he thought was cocaine – and started the fires to kill them.
The subsequent blaze resulted in 24 police officers and two ambulance crews being deployed.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard £10,000 worth of damage had been caused to Dundee Survival Group hostel, on Foundry Lane.
Depute fiscal Chris McIntosh said the hostel’s fire alarm sounded at 1.15pm on February 17 and the building was evacuated.
The fiscal said: “One member of staff went to the accused’s room and saw smoke coming from under the door.
“He unlocked the door with a master key and tried to push it open but it was barricaded with a bed.”
Police were contacted and officers tried to force open the door but Christie smashed the door frame with a hammer from within and closed the door.
Police surrounded the building and Christie climbed out the window and sat on a ledge, as “large plumes of smoke” bellowed out.
Entry was forced to Christie’s room. A small fire was found smouldering away, causing the room to be filled with smoke, and various patches of carpet were burnt out.
Negotiating officers managed to coax Christie back inside the building at 3.15pm.
He dropped the hammer from the ledge and climbed back into the room, where he told arresting officers: “I don’t know what I done.”
The fiscal said: “The fire investigating officer considered that the potential loss of life, had the fire properly caught, would have been very real.”
During interview, Christie told police he had taken a line of what he believed to be cocaine, then saw people coming out of the walls, dogs trying to bite him and insects crawling on the floor – and set the fires to kill the insects.
Christie, a prisoner at Perth, admitted charges of fireraising, malicious damage and aggressive behaviour, on February 17.
He was jailed for 18 months.