Noxious fumes fill flat block in ‘bomb’ alert

BOMB SCARE The device used by pranksters in the block of flats Joan Downing, below, lives in
BOMB SCARE The device used by pranksters in the block of flats Joan Downing, below, lives in
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PRANKSTERS gave neighbours a scare after planting a smoke bomb in a block of flats.

Joan Downing opened her door to find a wall of thick orange smoke that smelled of sulphur.

BOMB SCARE Joan Downing and the mark left by the device

BOMB SCARE Joan Downing and the mark left by the device

The 71-year-old had to evacuate her disabled husband Michael, who is in a wheelchair, as the noxious fumes poured into their flat at James Howell Court, in Bere Road, Denmead.

The smoke was coming from a home-made device – made of a cardboard tube – that had been thrown in the foyer.

Mrs Downing, who had just returned from a WI meeting when the fire brigade arrived just after 11pm on Wednesday, said: ‘I could see smoke in the hallway and thought it was coming from the airing cupboard.

‘Then I realised it was coming through the door.

‘I opened the door gingerly and it was full of orange smoke. It was sort of sulphurous.’

Three fire engines, police and paramedics went to the scene as initial reports suggested it was a fire.

Firefighter Bruce Gordon said: ‘Not only has this been a waste of time for the firefighters and staff in our control room but other support staff in the fire service, and the police and ambulance service, who were alerted to this incident.’

He added: ‘This has happened within 24 hours of a serious house fire in nearby Waterlooville that the service attended.

‘I would like to remind people to think twice about taking part in something that may seem like a harmless prank.

‘Although no harm may be intended it could put lives at risk if our resources are being unnecessarily sent to a bogus job.’

It is the second time the block of flats has been the victim of a prank.

Last time tomato ketchup was smeared over the glass in the foyer.

Resident Lilian Cresswell, 65, said: ‘It’s just so stupid and it’s not funny.’