12 escape nightime flat blaze in Clacton

Twelve people were rescued from a blaze in a block of flats in Clacton in the early hours of this morning.

TWELVE people were rescued from a flat block in the early hours of this morning after a suspected arson attack in Clacton.

They were asleep in the block at Cheryl Court, Uplands Road when the blaze broke out at 3.25am.

The fire was relatively small but the block became heavily smoke logged and entered a number of homes.

Paramedics treated people at the scene. Three residents suffered smoke inhalation and one was taken to hospital.

Firefighters wore breathing apparatus and used a thermal imaging camera when tackling the blaze.

Danny Fearn, assistant divisional officer, who was in charge of the incident, said: “This was the worse possible time for fire to break out as everyone was sleeping and a number of people had to be woken before being led out, including a couple of frail, elderly residents.

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“Crews did a magnificent job in bringing the incident under control within five minutes and then spreading themselves around 11 flats to bring everyone out.”

Firefighters pitched ladders to a couple of balconies and brought out three people.

The rest of the people were brought out through the building when it was safe to do so.

The fire started in the central reception area of the three-storey block.

The entire entrance lobby to all the floors became heavily smoke logged quickly, making it impossible for people to leave without the help of firefighters.

It appears there was no central smoke alarm in the property which would have provided residents with more early warning, officer Fearn said.

Essex Fire and Rescue said the cause of the incident is thought to be suspicious and a joint police and fire investigation will be carried out. Fire investigation and police scenes of crime officers are now working to establish the cause of the blaze.

Crews worked until 4.30am to clear the building of smoke so that people could be allowed back into their homes.

There is significant damage to the reception area of the privately-owned block. Most of the flats escaped damage.