Blaze death man had no chance, neighbours say

James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

There was 'no chance' of survival for a man who died in a blaze at a block of flats, his neighbours say.

As reported in The News yesterday, a man died after suffering severe burns in the blaze on the fifth floor of Omega House in Somers Town, Portsmouth, on Monday afternoon.

Neighbours who live in flats similar to the one occupied by the victim said smoke would have filled the tiny area instantly.

And they believe that fire could have blocked his only escape route.

Portsmouth City Council says the block of 80 flats meets all fire regulations.

But it added that if the police or Hampshire Fire Service had any recommendations following their investigation into the blaze, the council would respond to them.

Fifth floor resident Mick Holmes, 46, said: 'There was no way anyone in there could have survived.

'These flats are so small, if there was a fire really anywhere in them you couldn't get out - only if you jumped out of the window.'

Mr Holmes said he saw three firefighters breaking the flat door down with an axe.

He added: 'I went to ask what was going on and was told I'd better move to the back of the building. When I looked back up there was black smoke filling the corridor on the other side of the fire door.'

Fire investigators have yet to reveal the cause of the fire.

Cllr Steven Wyllie, who is both cabinet member for housing, and the ward councillor for Somers Town, said the housing department had been praised by the fire service and police for its actions in getting residents to safety on Monday night.

He added: 'Our greatest sympathies go out to the family of this gentleman.

'I can't speculate where the fire was (in the flat], or whether it contributed to his death.

'All I know is that the building definitely had its fire certificates.

'They aren't the biggest flats, but they are built to the safety standards.'

The victim of the fire, who is in his 40s, died at Queen Alexandra Hospital from his injuries.

Residents were evacuated for three hours after the fire was extinguished after firefighters discovered replica guns and grenades.