HeadLine: I SAW PALS KILLED IN BLAZE
Daily Record, 14/03/1998, p1
by Shaun Milne
A boy of 13 told last night how he watched two pals die in a blaze at a
Ally Douglas saw best mate Craig Quinn, 12, trapped inside, and heard
Craig and Blair Easton, 11, crying for help.
“I’m hoping this is only a nightmare,” Ally said through tears. “I’m
hoping I’ll wake up and everything will be normal.”
Craig and Blair died on Thursday night after going to the warehouse in
Penicuik, Midlothian, with Ally, Brian Wilkie, 11, Jamie Boyd, 12, and
Brian was being treated for serious burns last night.
Firemen believe one of the boys started the fire by setting light to a
piece of paper and dropping it.
Brave locals smashed through a wall with sledgehammers in a vain bid to
save Craig and Blair.
The warehouse, full of waste paper, was an inferno within moments.
Temperatures inside reached 800C. The six lads were larking about on
the Eskmill Industrial Estate in Penicuik when Craig, Blair, Brian and
Jamie got into the warehouse.
They entered through a door, then made their way into another part of
the building through a window and skylight.
Ally said: “We were mucking about but we weren’t doing anything bad.
“One of my pals dropped a lit piece of paper and the whole place went
up. It happened so fast.
“The smoke was choking and the flames were going through the roof.
“I saw the fire spreading and shouted to the others.
“Jamie managed to get out of the skylight and helped Brian.
“They jumped off the roof, then it collapsed. They’d have been trapped
too if they had waited any longer.
“Craig and Blair couldn’t find a way out. They were shouting, screaming.
“I saw Craig’s face at a window. It was barred and he couldn’t get
“He shouted: `Ally, quick, get some help. Get the fire brigade’.
“I ran and ran as fast as I could up the hill to the nearest houses.
“I could still hear Craig and Blair screaming. I didn’t know what to
do. I was scared and panicking.
“I got to the first house and asked for help. I think they phoned the
“Then I went to the next house across the road and told them.
“Someone there ran down to help.
“The police came and I told them two of my pals was trapped. They
legged it down the hill to try to get into the warehouse.
“It must have been five or 10 minutes before the fire brigade got
Ally was taken home and allowed to rest, then quizzed by detectives.
He said: “The police spoke to me for ages.
“I didn’t find out Craig and Blair were dead until the morning.
“My mum told me. I was really upset. Craig was my best friend and I saw
“I’d just tell everyone else not to go near buildings like that.
“Four of my friends went into that factory. Only two came out again.
It’s that serious.”
Jamie Boyd told how he tried to reach Craig and Blair while Ally went
for help. He said: “I tried to get Craig out but I couldn’t reach him.
“He and Blair were up against the window. They were badly burned and
“Craig shouted: `Boydie, come back and help’, but I couldn’t get back.
The flames were too high.”
A fire brigadespokesman said: “We are still not 100 per cent certain
what caused this accident.
“But the most likely cause at the moment is that the boys started a
fire with paper in the premises.”
Local people fear there may have been abandoned chemicals in the
warehouse but firefighters have so far found nothing to support that
The building was sold to Morrison Quarry Products in 1992. They sold it
on to Tilcon (Scotland). It was handed over to Midlothian Council last