JOHNSTONE residents are calling for an abandoned block of flats to be demolished after it was torched by firebugs.

Emergency services were called to the building at 85 Elm Drive, in Johnstone Castle, shortly before 10pm on Saturday.

Crews from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) tackled the blaze, which was believed to have been isolated to the top floor.

Many of the flats near that area of Elm Drive, including the building that was set on fire, are empty and awaiting demolition.

A SFRS spokeswoman said: “We were alerted at 9.52pm on Saturday to reports of a fire at derelict flats in Johnstone.

“A total of three fire appliances were immediately mobilised to the incident at Elm Drive and firefighters quickly extinguished a fire on the top floor.

“There were no casualties.

“Crews left the scene after ensuring the area was made safe.”

There have since been calls from residents demanding that plans to get rid of the block are brought forward, amid concerns that youngsters could put their lives at risk by entering the flats and starting another fire.

Councillor Marie McGurk, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, confirmed that the local authority is working to a timetable to demolish the flats.

She said: “The safety of our residents is our highest priority and deliberate fireraising puts people’s lives at risk.

“We work closely with Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, through Renfrewshire’s Community Safety Hub, taking concerted action to prevent such incidents.

“We are in regular dialogue with residents through the Johnstone Castle regeneration forum on the work to deliver new high-quality affordable homes at Elm Drive.

“Demolition work on existing blocks will be delivered on a phased basis and we will do everything we can to expedite this process.

“In the meantime, we are putting additional security measures in place to protect residents in the Johnstone Castle area and will continue to liaise with Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on any necessary action.”

Inspector Cassie Glass, who is based at Johnstone Police Office, confirmed Saturday’s incident is being treated as wilful fireraising.

She said: “At 9.45pm on Saturday, a derelict block of flats in Elm Drive was set on fire.

“We believe that youths may have gotten into the building and set the place alight.

“I urge anyone who may have been in the area at the time to come forward with any information.”

Anyone who has information about the blaze is asked to call the police on 101.

Alternatively, information can be passed to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.