Ipswich: Fire heroes rescue nine people from burning flats after arson attack
Ipswich: Firefighters have today been hailed as heroes after nine people were rescued following a second arson attack on their block of flats in just two weeks.
One young family – including two children aged just five and seven - woke to find their flat completely smoke-logged and had to be lead to safety by firefighters.
Advinas Gucius, 22 and his partner Arika Pasiliea, 23, were asleep in their second-floor flat in London Road when they awoke to find the block of flats on fire.
The blaze broke out at about 3.10am yesterday at the building, close to the junction with Burlington Road.
Three crews from Colchester Road and Princes Street fire stations were alerted after reports people were trapped inside the four-storey building.
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Mr Gucius praised firefighters for rescuing his family, including his two young children as well as five neighbours trapped inside.
“We were asleep and were woken up,” he said. “We could smell the smoke, it was everywhere.
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“We had to wait inside our flat until the firefighters arrived to get us out.
“They were great, we are very thankful to them.
“We are very worried, that is two fires in two weeks, we are looking for somewhere else to live.”
And neighbour, Krzysztof Dziobala, 37, who lives in a flat on the top floor, said firefighters had to break his windows in a bid to rescue him.
He said: “I was woken because it stinks, I opened my eyes and my house was full of smoke. I rang 999 but I could not open my door because of the smoke, the firefighters had to break my windows to get me out.”
The fire crews discovered the ground-floor flat engulfed in flames.
David Edwards, watch manager at Princes Street fire station said when they arrived they broke the windows of the ground-floor flat to assess the fire raging inside.
He said seven of the nine occupants – including Mr Gucius and his family – were walked to safety down the fire escape at the back of the block of flats.
“Two teams went in to search for people and put the fire out,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke and people in the flats above and below.
“Two people were rescued by the crews inside. The people inside could not get down the stairs so stayed in their rooms until we got there.”
Barry Thaine, caretaker of the building for owners SG&J Properties, said the bedsit was empty after the occupants were forced to move out two weeks ago after the first fire.
“There was bad smoke damage, but it was not as extensive as the first fire,” he said. “Until the first fire we had the odd bit of banter between people, but nothing serious.”
Paramedics were called and a spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said one person was taken to Ipswich Hospital for checks as a precaution.
The blaze was under control by 3.37am.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said it is believed the fire was started deliberately at the rear of the building after a pile of clothes in the ground-floor flat were set light to.
Scenes of crime officers from the force worked with fire investigators yesterday, scouring the scene for evidence.
The incident is being treated as arson with intent to endanger life.
Any witnesses to the incident yesterday are asked to call Dc Mark Pollikett at CID on 01473 613500.
- Did you see what happened? Were you rescued from the building? Call the newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.