A cat has been hailed as a hero after saving almost 40 people from a potential gas explosion in Winchburgh in West Lothian yesterday.
When James O’Hara, 58, let his ginger tom cat Paddy McCourt out of the house he expected it to take its usual leisurely Wednesday stroll.
But instead of doing this the cat returned to the house immediately, raising suspicions with the owner who spotted a blaze caused by firebugs.
Vandals had torched wheelie bins, resulting in flames which grew as high as 12 feet up the side of a property next to a mains gas pipe.
Fire crews then rushed to the scene and evacuated 30 houses after Mr O’Hara made the call.
Today the cat’s proud owner said: “He’s definitely a hero. The cat switched my attention to what was going on.
“I put the cat out and he stopped and turned back. If it hadn’t been for the cat turning back I wouldn’t have noticed the fire.
“He usually just goes out and climbs over the fence. He didn’t want to go any further and I wanted to know why.
“I heard a crackling and popping – I didn’t know what it was. As I looked out I saw all this smoke and this orange glow.
“It wasn’t a fire you could put out with a bucket of water but the kind only a professional would be able to handle.
“Someone could have been killed if the gas main had went up. It’s not just these houses, it’s all the houses.
“Letting the cat out saved the day.”