Detectives were last night investigating the deaths of three children after fire swept through their home.
Fiona Gibson, 12, and her brothers Alexander, eight, and Philip, five, died after fire tore through their family’s flat in Paisley. Their mother, Julie Daley, 39, was last night in a critical condition in hospital.
Neighbours say the children’s father, Alex Gibson, had returned from a petrol station and supermarket nearby at about 9pm on Friday to find the building on fire. Last night, he posted on Facebook, writing: “May you rest in peace little angels.”
The three children were taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow but died a short time later. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon posted her condolences online, saying: “No words are enough. It’s just heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all who loved these poor children. Fiona, Alexander and Philip – may you rest in peace.”
A significant police presence remained at the scene, in Renfrew Road, Gallowhill, last night. Detectives were seen entering the flat, which appeared to be entirely burnt out, while fire investigators were seen inside. Others were conducting door-to-door inquiries while a police cordon was established around the property.
Neighbours described the family as “loving” and the children as “boisterous and fun-loving”. Dominic Carroll, 28, a chef, who lives in the next street, said: “I was sitting in my living room looking through the window. I went out and saw people from all over heading towards the house.
“There was smoke billowing out the window. The front door is to the side of the house and I could see a lot of smoke coming out of the door. I could see firefighters going in and out and I saw one firefighter coming out with a child over his shoulder. I have two young children of my own and it was a very shocking sight. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them.”
One neighbour said Fiona, a pupil at Mary Russell School, and the boys, pupils of St Catherine’s Primary, had been happily playing outside on a bouncy castle in the days leading up to the tragedy. Yvonne Tennant posted on Alex Gibson’s Facebook: “Cuz I am so so sorry for your loss. Your wee Angels were absolutely amazing kids. Rest in peace sweethearts.”
Windows at the property, the upper flat in a cottage-style building, were smashed and blackened as fire investigators and police continued to probe the circumstances of the blaze.
Neighbours and friends left floral tributes and cards with messages of sympathy while hundreds of messages of condolence were sent last night to Mr Gibson.Jacqueline McCaig posted: “So sorry for your loss. Words aren’t enough. Prayers Julie’s ok. Xxx”
Tracey Darroch posted: “Alex I’m so sorry to hear this. It’s heartbreaking. Praying for julie.”
St Mirren FC also took to Twitter to pass on their condolences, saying: “St Mirren Football Club is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of three children in a house fire in Paisley last night. Our sincerest condolences go out to all affected.”
Renfrewshire councillor Paul Mack said: “The town of Paisley is in mourning over this devastating loss, made all the more poignant because those who lost their lives were children.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gibson family and for all those who knew and loved these children. I know the tightknit community of Gallowhill will do all they can to support the family at this terrible time.”
Paisley MSP Neil Bibby said: “This is an appalling tragedy. The loss of any life in such circumstances is terrible but it is all the more heartbreaking that it involves three young children with their lives before them.
“My deepest sympathies are with their family and friends.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The most tragic and heartbreaking news. Can’t think of anything worse as a parent. My heart goes out to the family, friends and community affected.”
Paisley MP Gavin Newlands said last night: “Utterly heartbreaking news about the tragic loss of three innocent young children, Fiona, Alexander and Philip Gibson, in last night’s fire in Gallowhill.
“May they rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their friends and family at this deeply difficult time.
“There is a joint investigation under way by the Police and Fire Service. If anyone has any information, no matter how trivial they may think it, please get in touch with the police.
“Lastly, can I thank every one of the emergency service personnel for their work in what must have been an absolutely horrendous incident to deal with?”
Police Scotland said inquiries into the tragedy were continuing and a report would be sent to the Procurator Fiscal. Anyone with information should get in touch with police by calling 101, quoting incident number 3669.
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