Two sisters killed in horror hotel fire that sent guests screaming into street

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Sisters Donna Janse Van Rensburg, 44, and Sharon McLean, 47, lost their lives (Image: Police Scotland)
Sisters Donna Janse Van Rensburg, 44, and Sharon McLean, 47, lost their lives (Image: Police Scotland)

The victims of a horror hotel fire that killed three people at the start of the new year include two sisters, it has been tragically revealed today.

Donna Janse Van Rensburg, Sharon McLean and Keith Russell died in the fire on January 2.

The blaze ripped through Perth's New County Hotel, Scotland, in the early hours of Monday morning.

A massive emergency service response was put in place after the fire broke out at around 5am, sending hotel guests screaming into the streets.

More than 60 firefighters and 21 ambulance units were involved in tackling the fire and treating the injured at its peak.

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Two sisters killed in horror hotel fire that sent guests screaming into streetKeith Russell, originally from Edinburgh, also died in the blaze (Police Scotland)

Police said Donna’s dog, Joey, a three-year-old King Charles spaniel, also perished.

The DailyRecord report that is has since emerged that both Perth and Kinross Council and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had expressed safety concerns about the New County Hotel in recent weeks.

Environmental health and fire safety officers had issued the building's owner, Rashid Hussain, with improvement notices that he was required to address by law.

Chief Superintendent Phil Davison said: “Our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of those who died as well as the many people affected by this incident.

Two sisters killed in horror hotel fire that sent guests screaming into streetDonna Janse Van Rensburg and her dog Joey died in the fire (Police Scotland)
Two sisters killed in horror hotel fire that sent guests screaming into streetGuests were evacuated from the hotel when the alarm was raised at around 5am (PA)

“A joint investigation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is ongoing and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

“I would like to again thank all the emergency services and partner agencies involved as well as the local community for their patience while enquiries are carried out.”

Mr Russell's family has released a statement saying: “Keith was a loving father and loved by all his family. He will be greatly missed."

Two sisters killed in horror hotel fire that sent guests screaming into streetThree people and a pet dog perished in the horror hotel fire (PA)

In all, 11 people were treated at the scene and none required further care at hospital.

Eyewitnesses told how people were "crying" in the street after they had dashed out of the County Place hotel to safety.

Sri Lankan dad Manju Prasanna, 38, said: "I woke up to some outside the room shouting to 'get out' as the alarms went off.

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Two sisters killed in horror hotel fire that sent guests screaming into streetA joint investigation is now underway, conducted by police and fire specialists (PA)

"Then I heard a man shouting ‘My room is on fire’. I woke up my wife and kid and told them we had to go."

Police Scotland released a statement hours after the fire.

A spokesman added: "Police Scotland can confirm that three people have died following a fire at the New County Hotel, County Place, Perth.

"Shortly before 5.10am on Monday, January 2, 2023, officers were called to a report of a fire at the premises.

Two sisters killed in horror hotel fire that sent guests screaming into streetInvestigations continue at the New County Hotel (PA)

"Emergency services attended and three people were confirmed dead at the scene. A number of others were treated for minor injuries by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

"Hotel guests and two people from a neighbouring block of flats were evacuated and are being supported by partner agencies."

Sam Elliott-Gibbs

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