NEIGHBOURS have spoken of their shock after a balcony was engulfed in flames and a fire ripped through a family home.
The incident happened in Watts Road, Buckland, shortly after 1pm today.
The family – a woman and her five-year old girl plus the woman’s adult brother – managed to escape the blaze, which was caused by a cigarette smouldering on the upstairs maisonette’s balcony.
A black kitten was not so lucky and was caught in the living room. It was rescued by firefighters, who gave it oxygen therapy.
Frances Fair, 59, who has lived in Watts Road for 53 years, saw the drama unfold.
She said: ‘I couldn’t believe the black smoke. I’m just glad nobody was hurt.
‘It was scary. My daughter said she thought somebody was having a barbecue, then we heard a loud crack and the glass exploding.’
Mohammed Ahad, who lives underneath the second-floor maisonette, with his three children and his wife, said: ‘We were just about to go out and next door came and said “there’s a fire, keep your children out of the garden”.
‘Some of the fire came down and set light to our garden seat and then the firefighters came. They were very good and came very quickly.
‘It was shocking. My son has autism and it was lucky that he was inside at the time. It was so lucky that they managed to stop it quickly.’
Another neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, said: ‘I could hear the cracking and when I looked out it was black and there were flames. I rushed out and the lady was already out and had phoned the fire brigade.
‘Fortunately no-one was hurt. Everybody got out, including the cat. The firefighters gave him oxygen and he perked up.’
The damage to the council house was extensive. It was quiet when The News called today. Two crews from Southsea and two from Cosham attended the incident, which was over by 4pm.