Soroba blaze throws up questions over emergency access

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A former fire fighter is calling on an emergency vehicle access point to be installed at Soroba in order to prevent threat to human lives should a fire break out on the estate again.

George Berry was addressing Oban Community council at their recent meeting having been an eyewitness to the blaze that broke out on the Oban Estate on Sunday August 25.

Danica Fleming’s family lost everything in the fire which gutted her second floor home at 6 Colonsay Terrace. Ms Fleming and her young son were not home at the time of the blaze, which was reported around 8pm, but her partner, who was in the flat, required medical assistance at the scene.

Mr Berry described the blaze as an ‘inferno’ and said he was even more horrified when he saw the Aerial Rescue Platform and the ambulance could not get to the affected building because of cars parked on either side of the street.

‘Had that fire happened at 2am or 3am  and there had been people in their beds it would have been an absolute disaster,’ he said.

Mr Berry has since been invited to several meetings where he can show what happened on the night of the fire and highlight the issues with a model he has made himself.

‘By the time the Aerial rescue truck arrived there were already two fire engines on the road working at putting out the fire and a police vehicle was there also,’ explained Mr Berry who praised the fire service and ambulance staff who were there on the night for arriving quickly and managing the situation.

Mr Berry now wants to put forward a proposal to move a children’s play park, sited in front of his own home at 7 Colonsay Terrace, to a current green wasteland space around the corner, and put an emergency vehicle-only box in its place.

‘Even if the aerial platform could have got through it would have struggled to reach number six or number seven because of the angles,’ he added.

‘With the playpark and rubbish bins being there it just doesn’t leave the space. It would make sense to move both a few metres around the block and allow the emergency vehicles better access.

‘Every flat up to number five is accessible by the car park so they just need to extend it a bit to cover number six and seven.

‘In my view there shouldn’t need to be any great debate on this, it’s a matter of life or death and should be treated as a priority.’

Mr Berry has been asked to give a presentation to local councillors and ACHA (Argyll Community Housing Association) in the next few weeks.