Residents led to safety after fire

FIREFIGHTERS led 11 people to safety today after fire broke out in a block of flats.

FIREFIGHTERS led 12 people to safety today after fire broke out in a block of flats.

The drama unfolded at Cheryl Court in Uplands Road, Clacton at around 3.25am.

Although the fire, the cause of which is thought to be suspicious, was relatively small, the block became heavily smoke logged, seeping into a number of flats as people slept.

Two crews from Clacton wore breathing apparatus and used one hose reel to tackle the fire. They also used a thermal image camera to help in the search for residents.

Ambulance paramedics treated three people who had suffered smoke inhalation at the scene, while one person was taken to hospital.

Firefighters worked until 4.30am to clear smoke from the building.

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Assistant divisional officer Danny Fearn, the officer in charge of the incident, said: “Crews did a magnificent job in bringing the incident under control within five minutes and then spreading themselves around 11 flats to lead everyone to safety.

“This was the worst 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.

“Clacton crews pitched ladders to a couple of balconies but took the decision once they had gone in that it would be safer to tackle the fire first and bring people out through the building once it was safe to do so.

“Within minutes they had the situation safely under control and did an excellent job in reassuring people and bringing them out.

“The fire, which appears to have been started deliberately at this stage, started in the central reception area of the three-storey block so the entire entrance lobby to all the floors quickly became heavily smoke logged, making it impossible for people to leave without the assistance of firefighters.

“It appears there was no central smoke alarm in the property which would have provided residents with more early warning.”

Fire investigation teams and police scenes of crime officers are now working to establish the cause of the blaze.

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