THIRTY one elderly residents were led to safety after fire broke out at a sheltered housing complex in Mossend on Sunday night.
Around 40 firefighters tackled the blaze and evacuated the Unitas Court buildings.
Two residents suffered minor injuries and needed hospital treatment, but there was relief that the consequences had not been far worse.
North Lanarkshire Council, which owns the complex, said damage was confined to one ground floor flat and some of the residents had been able to return to their homes later in the night.
The fire started shortly after 8pm and people living next to the complex told how they watched firefighters lead residents to safety.
One neighbour said: “Fire engines are at Unitas Court regularly to deal with smoke alarm issues and at first I thought this was another false alarm.
“But then when I saw the number of firefighters arriving I realised it was serious.
“There was smoke coming from the back of one wing of the complex.
“The firefighters wore breathing apparatus and they pulled some residents out of windows rather than take them through the corridor where there was a lot of smoke.
“The old folk were in their pyjamas, but ambulance crews had plenty of blankets to keep them warm while they were outside.
“Most of them looked fine though a bit shaken and a couple had to be given oxygen. One of the residents evacuated is a man of 94.
“Another neighbour and I offered to take some residents in to our houses, but the firefighters said they had to do a head count before they could take them back into the day room.”
The fire service and police are now investigating the cause of the blaze, though there are no suspicious circumstances.
The neighbour added: “The residents were very lucky as this could have been an awful lot worse.
“Firemen did a fantastic job getting everyone out so quickly. They don’t get paid nearly enough for what they do.”
Council workmen were carrying out minor repairs the morning after the fire, but life was going on as normal for many of the residents.
A council spokesman said: “Three people were given alternative accommodation at Muirpark Home in Viewpark while two residents were taken to hospital as a precaution.
“Most residents were either back in their flat later that night or stayed with relatives.
“Thankfully, no one was seriously injured and damaged is confined to one room.”