AN INVESTIGATION is under way after a Galashiels pensioner died from injuries he sustained in a flat fire.
Brian Hart died in Borders General Hospital at around 1pm on Tuesday after suffering severe smoke inhalation and significant burns in the blaze.
The 68-year-old was pulled from the living room of his second-floor property in Langlee Drive by firefighters just before 11pm on Monday.
Fellow Langlee Drive resident and family friend of 20 years, Esther Hunter, said: “This is a disaster.
“I believe they had just finished renovating the flat.
“I was phoned at 6.30am this morning (Tuesday) by Brian’s two cousins and brother to tell me about the fire.”
She added that Mr Hart’s wife, Betty, was staying at their daughter’s home at the time of the blaze, while their pet dog, which was in the property, was treated by a local vet.
“Betty had spoken to Brian at 9.30pm and everything was fine and the dog had gone to bed,” she said. “The dog is at the vet’s and must have not been in the living room.”
Another neighbour told us: “I didn’t hear anything until the fire, ambulance and police services arrived. Then it was chaos.”
A Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said the blaze caused “extensive damage”.
Six firefighters with breathing apparatus and a hose reel extinguished the flames and rescued Mr Hart from the building.
Also in attendance was the Red Cross’s new Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) vehicle, which provided assistance to three neighbours evacuated from their homes, including a woman in her 90s.
The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but it is not being treated as suspicious. Fire crews remained at the scene on Tuesday, while police cordoned off the block of flats which is located near Langlee Primary School.
The incident is the third fatal blaze in the Borders this year. Father-of-two James Patterson, 50, died at his Hawick home in May, while 37-year-old Brian Newton of Greenlaw was killed in a Duns factory blaze in July.