“Crazy”, “unbelievable” and “like something out of a movie”.
Just some of the words used to describe the incredible scenes in Dunfermline yesterday after an explosion and fire in a flat.
A loud bang and huge flames shooting from a top floor property in Dewar Street were seen around 1.45pm.
A 35-year-old man was taken to hospital following the incident.
Eight other homes were evacuated and remained cordoned off today, with at least two police units at the scene all day limiting access.
Despite initial reports of a gas leak causing the explosion, police said today that it is no longer believed to have been the cause, and an investigation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is ongoing.
Richard Jamieson said he got “the fright of his life” when he heard the initial bang from his summerhouse. His back garden looks onto the rear of the Dewar Street houses.
The 68-year-old retired engineer said: “I was having a wee snooze and it woke me up. I’ve never heard or seen anything like that in my life.
“There were flames leaping out of the kitchen window.
“I heard another bang – two explosions, definitely – but the second wasn’t as loud.
“I was looking for people coming out, I was worried for the people in there. I must have watched for half an hour. I was thinking that there was only one way in so one way out and worried people could be trapped.
“The explosion was at number 32 and my parents actually lived at number 30 years ago so I know the houses well.”
Ted Watson, a 65-year-old Royal Mail worker, whose house also looks on to the back of Dewar Street, said: “In the early afternoon I was at the Baptist Church doing some work. It’s just up and round the corner from Dewar Street.
“I sensed something had kicked off but I couldn’t see out properly because of the stained glass windows, but I could see large red vehicles which were obviously fire engines.
“When I came out a policeman was shocked to see me because he didn’t see where I came from and joked, ‘did you just fall from the sky?’
“Then he told me there had been an explosion and fire.
Back window blown out
“I got home and could see from my window that the back window had been blown out of the flat.
“I thought to myself, ‘that looks pretty scary’.
“There were firemen up and down those stairs like a fiddler’s elbow. The whole thing is certainly the talk of the steamie today.
“I heard there could be anything between four and 12 of the properties that have to be demolished because of the damage. Apparently, there are walls that have to be taken out because of the damage.”
‘Like stuff you’d see in a movie’
Apprentice joiner Ethan Morgan, 19, whose family live a block away from the terrace affected said: “I came around the corner and saw all the glass was smashed.
“I had just parked the car and heard there was just like a big bang.
“I went around the back to our kitchen, looked up and saw flames coming out of the flat’s window.
“It’s like stuff you see in a movie.
“Our dogs were going mental. We were told we had to leave the house and I went to my brother’s. We didn’t get back into our own house until about 5.30pm.”
‘Everyone is talking about it’
One man working in a shop at the end of the street said the incident had been “all people had been talking about”.
He said: “I was in here and heard a bang. Someone came in and said a house had been blown up.
“Some people came in and said it had been a boiler, others said it was a gas canister. Now we’re hearing it’s not a gas explosion so who knows?
“The whole of the street was evacuated and there were police and fire engines everywhere. It was crazy to see.”
One resident in nearby Maitland Street said she didn’t hear the explosion but smelled the smoke.
She said: “I never heard anything but a strong smell of burning came into the house. I thought it was someone in their garden burning something.
“I didn’t know what had happened until someone told me. It’s not your everyday occurrence so obviously everyone is talking about it and shocked.”
Couple thought it was a car accident
One couple who live a few doors down from the property said they thought there had been a car accident when they heard the explosion.
“My husband and I were out walking and heard this loud bang; we thought two cars had hit each other,” said the woman.
“The sound was horrendous. The woman who owns the flat was screaming, ‘phone the fire brigade’.
“It really was unbelievable.”
‘It could have been fatal’
Her husband added: “We were walking past when the window blew out. We heard a big bang and noticed the window was all smashed.
“There was some smoke from the front at that point.
“We went across the road for safety. There was bowling going on at the time and one woman in the next flat was taken across to the bowling green to keep her safe.
“It could have been a lot worse, going by the injuries we’ve read about. It could have been fatal.”
One other woman in the street claimed a police officer had told her a canister of butane gas was the cause of the explosion.
Police investigation ongoing
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We were made aware of an explosion and subsequent fire at a property on Dewar Street, Dunfermline, around 1.50pm on Saturday July 3 2021.
“Officers attended to assist the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service at the scene. “A 35-year-old man was taken to St John’s Hospital for treatment.
“A number of properties have been evacuated until the building has been assessed.
“Following inquiries it is no longer believed to have been a gas explosion and inquiries are ongoing.
“A joint investigation is being carried out alongside the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.”
A Fife Council spokeswoman said the local authority would have provided anyone evacuated with somewhere to stay, if necessary.
She said: “We were made aware of the incident last night but we weren’t required to take any action. All those evacuated had somewhere else to go.
“We set up rest centres if there are a number of people evacuated and don’t have anywhere else to go, or if they’re only going to be evacuated for a short period of time then we’ll often set up a rest centre nearby, but everybody who was there had somewhere else to go.”