Neighbours pay tribute to man killed in house explosion

James Smith, 84, died after two homes were ruined in a blast that was heard miles away.

Neighbours have paid tribute to the man killed after a house exploded in Edinburgh.

Police Scotland was called to an eruption at an address on Baberton Mains Avenue at roughly 10.25pm on Friday.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said five appliances were sent to the scene.

Two people, a 43-year-old woman and 54-year-old man, survived the blast and were taken to hospital for treatment.

But an 84-year-old man died. He has been named as James Smith, known as Jimmy. Neighbors who knew him have paid tribute to him, saying he was a “lovely man”.

Arthur McKenna, a retired firefighter who lives in the home opposite, knew Mr Smith well and would speak to him most days.

Arthur McKenna, a retired firefighter who lives in the home opposite, knew Mr Smith well and would speak to him most days.

“I pop over and we have a chat,” Mr McKenna told STV News.

“He was a nice man. I spoke to him yesterday [Friday], he was fine, he was good.

“It’s devastating. We’re a close community here, we all know each other.”

Daylight revealed the true scale of the devastation caused by Friday night’s suspected gas explosion.

Daylight revealed the true scale of the devastation caused by Friday night’s suspected gas explosion.

This gap is where two houses stood. One has been completely reduced to rubble and half of next door’s is destroyed.

Debris has damaged nearby cars and houses.

Neighbors said it sounded as though a bomb had gone off – so loud it could be heard from miles away.

Mr McKenna, who spent 30 years with the fire service, had been sitting in his living room with his wife and had just decided to head upstairs to bed when they heard the explosion.

“It was frightening, very frightening,” he said.

A spokeswoman for gas distributor SGN said it was brought in to help emergency services and “ensure the immediate vicinity” was “made safe”.

“There were people scrambling in the [rubble]. It was pandemonium.”

A spokeswoman for gas distributor SGN said it was brought in to help emergency services and “ensure the immediate vicinity” was “made safe”.

She said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family of the man who has tragically died as well as those who have been injured.

“While it is too early to speculate as to what has happened, we are working closely with the authorities to help discover the cause.”

Some locals reported hearing the explosion as far away as Gilmerton, a suburb miles from the blast.

Neighbours said they felt their homes shaking, while one person said they heard the explosion from inside a cinema in nearby Wester Hailes.

Cammy Day, leader of Edinburgh City Council, said: “This is incredibly sad news for the city and all of our thoughts are with those affected.

“We’re very grateful to the emergency services who responded so quickly and tirelessly last night, evacuating the scene and making the surrounding area safe.

“I know that council officers assisted into the early hours of this morning and continue to stand ready to support all agencies and the local community.”

Sue Webber, a Scottish Tory MSP for the Lothian region, said on social media: “Such tragic news, in such a close community.

“Thank you to all the emergency services that attended. My thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by this incident.”

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