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Hilton fire: Residents of burning flat tell of desperate attempts to flee fire and warn neighbours

Two women died in the Aberdeen flat fire despite the best efforts of those living nearby.

Person being rescued from top floor of flat on Back Hilton Road
Firefighters had to save residents from the burning building on Monday evening. Image: Supplied.

Hilton residents have spoken of their desperate plea to alert neighbours as their home went up in flames.

Two women died on Monday after a fire broke out at a block of flats on Back Hilton Road.

A three-week old baby, Gabriel, also had to be rescued by firefighters from the third floor of the burning building.

His mother Grace Ekohwo, who was also lifted down by rescue services, said her baby boy was doing well after being discharged from hospital.

At least 15 crews including police, firefighters, paramedics, trauma teams and special operation response teams descended on the flats at about 6pm on Monday.

The Press & Journal now understands the fire started in a second-floor flat which its occupants, aged 28 and 25, tried to put out.

Back Hilton Road flats on Wednesday morning
Police remain at the Back Hilton Road flats. Image: Graham Fleming/DC Thomson.

‘We could have died if we stayed any longer’

Speaking to the P&J the couple said they were relaxing in their bedroom when they noticed the smell of burning coming from another room.

When they went to investigate they were shocked to see their office door engulfed by flames.

The pair desperately tried to put out the flames but when that failed they fled their home, banging on the doors of their neighbours as they fled.

The woman, who didn’t want to be named, said: “We put water in a rubbish bin and tried to put it out, but it just became worse.

“So, I just grabbed him (her partner) and said we should leave now. We tried our best to put it out but I thought we were going to die if we stayed any longer.

Fire appliance outside Back Hilton Road flats
Emergency services at the scene on Monday night. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson.

“There was a lot of smoke in our noses.

“There was burnt plastic on my pyjamas and burns on my face.

“I was screaming for help, the neighbours called the fire brigade because I didn’t have my phone.

“It was in the flat and I couldn’t go back to get it. I was knocking on all the doors, I was asking for help.”

Now, the couple say they have been left homeless and have nowhere to go.

Residents shocked to hear about deaths

Burnt out window at Hilton block of flats
One of the burnt out windows in the building. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

The woman, a journalism student at Robert Gordon University, said they have “lost everything” in the fire.

“We have lost around £20,000,” she continued. “Furniture, everything, it is all damaged.

“We ran out in our pyjamas and now we have to wear clothes that the police gave us. We are living in a hotel right now.

“We are starting from zero. No house no belongings no clothes. Nothing.”

However the couple said that hearing about the death of her neighbours has put their loss into perspective.

She said: “We thought the neighbours had already left, so we were shocked to hear about these women.

“We knocked on all the doors so we thought everyone had got out. Hearing about those people was the worst part of everything.”

Neighbours rush to report Hilton fire

Caitlin Toban
Caitlin Toban called the emergency services on Monday evening. Image: Graham Fleming/DC Thomson.

One of the couple’s neighbours, Caitlin Toban, acted quickly to call the fire service.

The 27-year-old phone network engineer was alarmed when she heard “screaming and banging” from the flat above her.

She said: “I started to hear screaming. I think it was the lady from the flat above.

“She was shouting ‘fire’ and banging on all the doors. I phoned the fire brigade but when I was here it didn’t seem that serious.

“I knew there were lots of emergency crews but I thought it was just because of the fire.”

Residents still not allowed home

Caitlin returned to her home this morning to collect some of her belongings.

However, police are still patrolling the front of the property and residents are not allowed access.

She added: “I’ve managed to get back in for some inhalers.

“I’m waiting on an update from the investigation teams but no one has given me any indication when I’m allowed back.

Fire investigation unit at Back Hilton Road
Police and the fire service are carrying out an investigation into the incident. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

“I’m staying with my friend right now and my letting agency is trying to get me somewhere to stay.

“I just couldn’t really believe what was happening.

“I just feel really sad for them. I don’t know them personally but it could have been any of us in there.

“The whole thing is really sad.”

Eyewitness recalls nerve-wracking moment baby was rescued from fatal Aberdeen flat fire