TERRIFIED residents today praised firefighters who woke them in the early hours and led them to safety as flames swept a flats complex.
One relieved dad who fled with his daughter said: “Just a few minutes later and who knows what might have happened.”
Plumes of smoke were billowing from flats on the third floor of the Cambridge Court complex on Carver Street in Sheffield city centre when fire crews entered the burning building.
A bedroom in one flat was well alight, and investigations revealed a lit candle had toppled over.
The occupant of the flat managed to escape but was taken to hospital suffering from the effect of inhaling smoke.
A neighbour whose home started to fill with smoke retreated onto his balcony to try to escape.
He was given instructions by firefighters to crawl to his door on his hands and knees, to try to limit the amount of smoke he breathed in.
Resident John Harrison, aged 53, was one of those evacuated along with his 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, who was staying with him for the night.
The dad-of-two praised firefighters for their actions.
“The first we knew was when firefighters were banging on our doors telling us to get out,” he said.
“The flats were thick with smoke so the firefighters got everyone out and out of harm’s way.
“There were fire engines everywhere but it was pitch black so they had to erect special lighting so they could see what they were doing.
“The flat where the fire was in is gutted, so I am just glad whoever raised the alarm did it when they did - just a few minutes later and who knows what might have happened.
“There were people coughing and spluttering but it was just the man whose flat it is that was taken to hospital - the rest of us were very lucky.
“It was scary at the time to be woken in the middle of the night to find a fire so close to where you live.”
The fire, at 12.50am yesterday, was one of two in Sheffield reported to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service within the space of just an hour.
At 1.50am crews were called to a blaze in a flat on White Thorns View, Batemoor.
When firefighters entered the empty property they found a sofa burning.
It is believed someone had been inside the disused flat and had been smoking on the sofa.
The fire has been logged as accidental.
A fire service spokesman confirmed the Carver Street blaze was also accidental.
“A Sheffield man needed hospital treatment for smoke inhalation after a fire in his flat in the early hours of Friday morning,” he said.
“Fire crews were called to the third floor Cambridge Court flat and found the occupant already out, but the bedroom in which the fire started was severely damaged.
“Firefighters in breathing apparatus put the fire out and ventilated the rest of the property, which was filled with smoke.
“A second flat, across the hallway, was also full of smoke, and firefighters’ instructions helped the occupant to get himself to the front door and out to safety. He did not suffer any injuries.
“Fire crews believe the fire started accidentally, caused by a lit candle which fell onto the floor.”