FIRE TRAGEDY: Three people and a dog die after fire at hotel 

By Lucy Ashton

Three people have died after a fire broke out at a hotel in Perth, immediately recalling for many people here the five season fire in which two men died at Cameron Hoiuse Hotel on Loch Lomondside.

Two sisters and a man who died in a hotel fire in Perth earlier this week have now been named by police.

Donna Janse Van Rensburg, 44, and Sharon McLean, 47, both from Aberdeen, and “loving father” Keith Russell, 38, originally from Edinburgh, died when over 60 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze at the New County Hotel.

Ms Van Rensburg’s dog, Joey, a three year-old King Charles spaniel, also died in the incident shortly after 5am on January 2.

An investigation has since been launched into the cause of the fire amid reports that health and safety protocols assessed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) three weeks before the fire deemed them inappropriate.

Twenty one ambulance crews and nine fire trucks had been called out to the blaze at the New County Hotel on County Place, Perth.

Chief Superintendent Phil Davison said: “Our thoughts are very much with the families and loved ones of those who have died at what is a very difficult time for everyone.

“Our inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances of what has happened and officers are conducting a joint investigation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.”

Hotel guests and two people from a neighbouring block of flats were evacuated. The force appealed to the public to avoid the area, while Perth and Kinross Council said a number of roads in the area had been closed.

 Emergency services at the scene after a fire at the New County Hotel in Perth.

Emergency services at the scene after a fire at the New County Hotel in Perth.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney described the fatalities as “heartbreaking news”.

Mr Swinney, the MSP for Perthshire North, tweeted: “My sympathies with all affected by this tragedy.”

Local MP Pete Wishart said the fire was “simply awful news at the beginning of the year when so many people are out celebrating”.

Mr Wishart, who represents Perth and North Perthshire, added: “My thoughts are firmly with the families and friends of the victims.

“When the news broke, we all hoped that everyone would make it out and would be accounted for. This is the last thing that anybody expected.

“I know the people of Perth will be devastated by this news and would like to extend their deepest sympathies to those affected by this tragedy. Can I also thank the emergency services who attended the scene in such numbers.”

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