FOUR people have been rescued from a fire in a block of flats in North Lanarkshire.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews were called to reports of a couch on fire in a communal close at a block of flats in McPherson Crescent, Chapelhall, near Airdrie, shortly before 12:30am today.

Appliances were sent from Bellshill and Coatbridge community fire stations and from Hamilton, in South Lanarkshire.

Two women and two children were given check-ups by paramedics at the scene with one of the adults taken to hospital by ambulance as 'precautionary measure'.

Station Manager Tom Sinton, commanding officer at Bellshill, said: "The fire was in the entrance area of the building and it produced a large amount of smoke that affected several flats on the floors above.

"The incident commander committed four firefighters in breathing apparatus to extinguish the flames and conduct search and rescue operations, which resulted in four people being removed from the building by ladder.

"A fire in a communal close can be extremely frightening for anyone in the connecting properties as it cuts off their means of escape.

"It's important that closes are always kept clear of items that could catch fire or block people trying to exit the building and we strongly encourage anyone who spots a build-up of materials in communal areas to report it immediately."

SFRS crews offer free home fire safety visits to anyone who thinks they could benefit from advice to prevent fires and the deaths and injuries caused by them.