Terrified parents were forced to drop their children – including an 18-month-old baby – out of a first-floor window after a fire left them trapped in their homes.
Two families have today described their horror as thick black smoke threatened to engulf their first floor flats late on Wednesday night.
The nightmare unfolded just before midnight when fire broke out in a hallway at a two-storey property on Main Street, in the Hilltown.
Nikki Smith, 32, relived the terrifying ordeal which saw her and her three children being lowered out of a window by her partner in a desperate bid to save their lives.
She said: “I was absolutely terrified. I was hysterical and thought we were all going to die.”
Nikki’s partner John McKelvie lowered her out of the first-floor window first, to be caught by a neighbour on the ground below.
“I fell a bit and landed on my neighbour who broke my fall,” she said.
“John then lowered baby Cree, who is only 18 months old, out to me. I was terrified I would drop him but I managed to catch him.”
John then lowered daughter Nahdean, 9, out to her mum before son Reehio, 12, managed to lower himself to safety.
Nikki said: “John then managed to get himself out of the flat. He is all bruised but I believe he saved my life and that of the children.”
The family’s pet rottweiler Snoop, was left at the open window but was not injured.
Neighbour Rosemary Whyte also described her terror at being trapped inside her four-bedroomed flat.
Rosemary, 35, said: “I thought we were all going to die.
“When my fire alarm went off around 11.30pm I opened the door to the stair and was faced with a wall of thick, choking black smoke. There was no way out, we were trapped inside and petrified.”
Rosemary said that she and her partner, Hugh Whyte, 29, had been in bed at the time with seven of the nine children who live with the couple.
Rosemary and Hugh have five children of their own and also look after her late sister’s four children.
Her two oldest children had left to go to an overnight supermarket but returned after 10 minutes when Rosemary phoned them.
Rosemary said: “The kids who were in the flat are aged two to 19.
“We moved them all in to the sitting room – that was the only room not affected by smoke – and opened the window.
“When we looked outside I saw our neighbours jumping out of their windows.
“One of them threw their baby out of the window.
“People were so scared.”
Rosemary said that soon after that the fire brigade arrived and shouted to the couple to stay in their flat.
“We stood by the window contemplating jumping out.
“My 16-year-old did jump, he was so scared,” she said.
“The only thing that prevented me from jumping was that I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing my two-year-old out before me.”
Rosemary said that after around 30 minutes they finally got word from the firefighters that the hallway and stairwell were safe.
Meanwhile a man living on the ground floor tried to battle the fire by throwing buckets of water at it.
Monika Baczkolska, 33, said: “My partner Jorosclaw Juron dashed out and filled buckets of water from a garden tap and threw them at the fire.”
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has confirmed it is investigating the cause of the fire but police have said they do not believe it was started deliberately.
It’s understood that something accidentally set fire to a leather chair in the communal hallway.
A spokeswoman for the SFRS said: “We attended a fire in a two-storey block on Main Street around 11pm last night.
Three appliances attended.”