‘Tragic set of circumstances’ surround fatal Wellogate fire

Scene of house fire in Wellogate Place, Hawick where a man died after firemen overlooked a cupboard in which the man's body was eventually found.
Scene of house fire in Wellogate Place, Hawick where a man died after firemen overlooked a cupboard in which the man's body was eventually found.
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INVESTIGATIONS are currently under way into a fatal house fire on Sunday which claimed the life of 50-year-old James Patterson.

The fire service were called to the property at 4 Wellogate Place early on Sunday morning and the blaze was extinguished.

An initial search by firefighters failed to find Mr Patterson, but when they returned almost six hours later his body was discovered in a cupboard in his bedroom under clothing.

A spokesperson for Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade told the Hawick News: “The property was searched and there wasn’t anybody found. The police were at the scene as well and we spoke to them and they were going to make enquiries as to the whereabouts of the person whose house it was.

“We came back at 2.30pm to undertake ‘hot strikes’, which we do after a serious fire, where we go round neighbouring properties making sure they’re aware of the incident and check smoke alarms.

“The police returned with the family who had been in the property and after a further search he was found within a cupboard under quite a lot of clothing and other items.”

Two fire engines rushed to the scene after receiving a call at 6.40am and firefighters using breathing apparatus tackled the blaze, which had blown out the windows of the ground floor flat by the time they had arrived.

Upstairs neighbour Norman Dickson said they were awoken by a passer-by who was heading to tend to his horse at the Wellogate Stables.

He said: “My wife woke me up and said there was a funny smell. I couldn’t smell anything but then I heard banging on the door and a man was saying there was a fire downstairs and to get out.

“Just as we got out the fire brigade arrived. They went in and after a while they gave the place the all-clear.

“It’s just unbelievable, a complete tragedy.”

It is understood Mr Patterson, a divorced father of two who lived at the property for more than 12 years, kept poor health, although police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

However, the fire service spokesperson added: “This was a really tragic set of circumstances and devastating news for the watch involved.

“We’ve spoken to the family and expressed our sincere condolences to them.

“Enquiries are ongoing to get a fuller picture of the circumstances.”