Residents relive fire horror

SHOCKED residents today relived the terrifying moments when they thought their block of flats was about to be destroyed by fire.

Richard Cornwell

SHOCKED residents today relived the terrifying moments when they thought their block of flats was about to be destroyed by fire.

Several people in the flats in Jasmine Close, Trimley St Martin, had been asleep when the blaze broke out - but quickly tried to help those trapped on the first-floor by the fierce flames.

With a discarded sofa on fire at the top of the stairwell, there was no way the frightened occupants of the upstairs flats could get out of their homes.

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A police officer - one of the first on the scene of the drama - climbed a ladder to help a man to safety, while a young woman decided to get out of a window, bravely dropping from the first-floor to be caught in the arms of neighbours below.

Nicola Brown, 30, who has lived in a ground floor flat in the block just off St Martin's Green, for about 18 months, said the first she was aware of the fire was when she thought there were people outside her home.

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She said: “There was all this noise and crackling and I had no idea what it was and when I came out I could see the smoke upstairs.

“I shouted to the woman at the top of the stairs not to open her door because I was afraid the oxygen would just cause the flames to spread and then phoned 999.

“I think other people had rung them as well because the fire service were here very quickly.

“I just kept shouting 'Don't open your door' and hoped the firemen would be able to do something.

“I went outside and the woman upstairs was climbing out of her window and some men caught her as she dropped down.

“It was pretty bad - I have never seen fire like that before.

“My flat hasn't been damaged but there was a bit of smoke inside.”

The woman - who has not been named - who dropped from the window was checked over by paramedics but did not need to go to hospital.

Her father was at the scene this morning, checking his daughter's home was secure. He confirmed she had not been injured.

Another resident, Richard Banthorpe, who lives on the ground floor of the flats, said: “I was asleep and I heard all this commotion.

“I dived round the back to get a ladder to help the woman upstairs but by the time I got it round she had dropped out of the window and three other blokes had caught her.

“I then took the ladder round to the other side and the police were here. I held the foot of the ladder while the police officer went up to get the man out of the window.”

Residents said there had been an old unwanted couch at the top of the stairwell and it was this that had been set alight.

Today there was nothing left of the furniture except for the remains of metal springs.

The stairwell and the doors to the upstairs flats were completely blackened, the hallway littered with broken glass, its window looking out onto Jasmine Close left charred by the flames.

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