Man in death plunge clung to ledge for 20 minutes

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A RACE to rescue a man dangling by his fingertips from a narrow ledge 160ft above street level ended in failure when he fell to his death before firefighters could reach him.

David O'Lone, 24, was trying to escape from a fire on the 16th floor of a Glasgow tower block in the Gorbals area on Sunday night. Neighbours, who were urging him to 'hold on', said yesterday that he had been clinging to the ledge for about 20 minutes before falling. As the heat from the fire increased, the man screamed that his fingers were getting hot, then plunged on to the roof of the community annexe of the multi-storey Croftfoot Quadrant block.

An investigation into the fire, which claimed a second life, was under way yesterday. The second man died in the same way, falling to his death as soon as the blaze erupted. He was named as Daniel Kelso, 27.

One neighbour told how she heard a bang, then saw smoke and flames. 'One of the men seemed to be almost blown out of the window,' she said.

John Jameson, Strathclyde's Firemaster, said yesterday that firefighters were on the scene two minutes after the alarm was raised, and were attempting the rescue from within the block. An outside rescue using a turntable ladder had not been possible because the flat was located on the 16th floor. Catherine Milligan, another neighbour, said firefighters were hampered by renovation work. 'It was horrible. The firemen were trying to find a way to the flats. But the usual road was blocked by contractors' fencing.' However, Mr Jameson denied the rescue was hampered by the renovations. The block has recently been taken over by the housing agency, Scottish Homes, as part of multi-million pound Gorbals improvement project.

Forensic scientists are examining the flat, which is known as a haunt of drug users. Police are investigating the possibility that the two dead men may have barricaded themselves in to prevent a surprise raid by drugs squad officers, and that this may have prevented them both escaping and hindered rescue attempts.