Terrified St Leonards residents told the News they are “lucky to be alive” after being rescued from a burning block of flats which were deliberately set alight.
A woman and a young family were among those trapped on the top floor of residential flats in Glen Moy as the blaze ripped through the building in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Ten people, including young children, were evacuated and two male residents were treated for moderate smoke inhalation by paramedics at the scene.
No-one was injured in the fire.
Detectives are treating the incident as willful fireraising after early investigations indicated a flat on the second floor was deliberately set ablaze.
They could not confirm at this stage local reports that a door was doused in petrol and set alight.
Detective Inspector John Shaw, of East Kilbride CID, is appealing for information.
He said: “This was a terrifying experience for the occupants of the flats, and made even worse by the fact that early investigations have told us that the fire was started deliberately.
“Thankfully, no-one was injured in this incident. However, if it was not for the swift action of the occupants and the emergency services then we may have been dealing with serious injuries or even fatalities.”
Horrified residents awoke at around 3.30am to the ringing of smoke alarms and found the block engulfed in thick black smoke.
Three fire engines raced to the scene after being alerted by residents trapped inside the burning building. Firefighters, who wore breathing apparatus and tackled the blaze with hosereel jets, were only able to lead the trapped householders to safety once they had extinguished the flames.
A father, who lives on the top floor, said: “The smoke alarm went off and I could smell smoke so I got my wife and son up.
“We were evacuated about 4am. I’m not sure what happened. I think someone set a door on fire. We’re lucky no one was killed.”
A fire investigation unit from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue probed the scene while police carried out door-to-door inquiries.
The entire four-storey block remained cordoned off yesterday while further investigations took place.
A number of windows had been blown out and the interior was charred black with the heat and the smoke from the inferno.
Four flats, one on the second floor where the fire originated, and three on the third floor, have been boarded up or sealed off with metal doors. Factors South Lanarkshire Council confirmed privately-owned properties were damaged by the fire.
A woman who lives alone, and directly above the burnt-out flats, said she thought her flat was on fire. She told the News: “It was frightening. I assumed my flat was on fire. Thank god for the emergency services or I would’ve been next. They did a great job.
“This is normally a quiet area but I don’t understand why these flats don’t have secure entry.”
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue group commander Stephen Scott said: “This fire had trapped a number of people in their homes. However, the decisive actions taken by our firefighters when they arrived at the scene meant that the danger was quickly averted and those trapped inside could be led to safety unharmed.”