Fire terror as old folk flee flats

RESIDENTS of a Sheffield block of flats spoke today of their terror at the moment they realised the building had turned into a blazing inferno.

Sunday, 14th October 2007, 1:30 pm
Updated Monday, 15th October 2007, 10:38 am

Firefighters were called to the block of flats on Errington Road, Arbourthorne, at around 8pm on Saturday after flames were seen leaping out of windows in the building.

Trapped residents were screaming for help from upstairs windows as crowds gathered below.

Crews from Mansfield Road and Darnall fought the blaze, which at one time was being battled by 20 firefighters.

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They used ladders to rescue people trapped on the upper floors and six people were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

One elderly resident, aged 81, who asked not to be named, said: "You could smell it from the ground floor. They had to get them out on ladders. All the flats above were just black.

"There were hundreds of people standing outside. I have lived here for 30 years and I haven't seen anything like it before."

Chris Jordan, aged 25, added: "The first thing we knew was when my 18-month-old son started crying. I went in and my three-year-old was crying as well. They could both smell the burning.

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"As soon as we could we all got out of the building. It was a real relief to get out.

"One lady at the top of the flats just panicked and locked her door. Firemen eventually had to get her out. A lot of the people who were rescued were older people who are not as quick on their feet."

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: "No-one was seriously injured. Six people were stranded on the upper floors and another three or four people were led to safety on foot."

Crew manager Mick Betts said: "The middle flat was completely gutted and seven of the other eight suffered smoke damage.

"The firefighters did an excellent job in performing rescues and putting the fire out, and all persons are now accounted for."

The fire service still investigating the cause of the fire, which is thought to have begun in a first floor flat.

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