Prank led to homeless hostel blaze

Airth Court
Airth Court
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A man started a fire at the homeless unit where he was staying after messing about with a lighter and an aerosol can.

Eighteen people had to be evacuated when the blaze took hold at Airth Court in Motherwell.

Paul Fleming (42), a prisoner, was jailed for 14 months at Hamilton Sheriff Court last week. He admitted culpably and recklessly causing the fire at the Bellshill Road homeless complex on July 3 this year.

Natalie Henderson, prosecuting, said damage to the flat was ‘extensive’ and firefighters had to rip out charred floor boards.

The court heard Fleming was fooling around, using a lighter to ignite fumes from an aerosol can. However, the flame set a towel alight and the fire spread from there.

Defence agent Diarmid Bruce said CCTV showed Fleming pressing a fire alarm and shouting ‘Fire, fire’. He added: “Fortunately nobody was injured. My client should be given credit for the way he tried to counter his stupid behaviour. He is genuinely sorry.”

Passing sentence, Sheriff Ray Small told Fleming: “I take on board this is not a charge of wilful fireraising, but on another day the whole building could have burned down with serious consequences for life and property.”