Warnings after report reveals cigarette lighter caused fatal Paisley house fire that killed three young children

Warnings have been sounded after it emerged three children perished because bedding was set on fire with a cigarette lighter.

Gavin Newlands MP said the report from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service into the fatal house fire in Gallowhill, Paisley, in June 2020 was “a sobering reminder of the trauma visited upon our community”.

The report says the source of the fire was a cigarette lighter that set bedding on fire.

Fiona Gibson, 12, and her brothers Alexander, eight, and Philip, five, died at their Gallowhill flat on Friday, June 19 after being overcome by smoke and fumes.

Their mother, Julie Daley, was seriously injured but survived. The children’s dad Alex Gibson was out at a nearby Tesco and returned home to find the flat on fire.

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The fire had started in a bedroom and Julie and her children were discovered in a different part of the flat.

The report estimated that the fire had been going for between five and 30 minutes before being discovered.

It also states the flat had a working smoke alarm which had gone off and alerted the family to the fire.

Five fire engines attended the incident, with the first from Renfrew Fire Station arriving after just five minutes.

Police Scotland said at the time that they were not treating the fire as suspicious.

Mr Newlands, who represents Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said: “The deaths of Fiona, Alexander and Philip are still in the memories of the people of Gallowhill and beyond and everyone’s thoughts are with their parents, their family and their friends.

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“The trauma the fire investigators would have had to endure in looking into the causes of this tragedy should not be forgotten.

“It is a tough job, but the circumstances of the incident they have been investigating are particularly hard.

“The findings of the investigation are a reminder of the threat fire poses to lives in and out of the home, and I would encourage everyone to visit the Scottish Fire and Rescue website for advice on how to keep their home safe.”

Natalie Don MSP also paid tribute to the community for their support to the family at the time.

She said: “Everyone was in shock when this tragedy occurred.

“It’s hard to put into words how the family must be feeling with the loss of such young children through a tragic accident.

“I know the local community tried to be supportive to the family during this time with hundreds lining the streets as the funeral cortege passed by.

“My heart goes out to the parents and to everyone who has been affected by this tragedy.”

The funeral cortege for Fiona Gibson, twelve, Alexander James Gibson, eight, and five-year-old Philip Gibson makes its way through the streets

Hundreds of mourners lined the streets of Paisley as the children were laid to rest three weeks after the fire.

At the family’s request, locals dressed in bright colors and clapped quietly as the cortege made its way past St Catherine’s Primary School, where the two boys were pupils.

Teachers and support staff – who described the boys as being full of energy – sobbed as they formed a guard of honor outside the school gates.

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Many of their classmates had turned out in bright clothing and, together with their parents, gently clapped in a show of love for the children on route to their final resting place.

The cortege, which included a large floral rainbow with the children’s names on it, later made its way back onto Renfrew Road and passed Mary Russell School, where Fiona attended, before finally arriving at Hawkhead Cemetery.

A JustGiving page set up by a family friend at the time of the accident raised more than £33,000 to support Julie and Alex.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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