Firefighters lead man to safety as blaze rages in flat

Fire investigators at the scene of a ground floor flat fire in Festing Grove.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (113563-4)
Fire investigators at the scene of a ground floor flat fire in Festing Grove. Picture: Paul Jacobs (113563-4)

Portsmouth coastguard called to reports of a body near Chichester

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FIREFIGHTERS dramatically rescued a man from a burning building as a blaze raged through a Southsea flat.

The terrified man, in his 30s, woke to the smell of smoke and dialled 999.

The operator kept him calm and directed him to the front window of the first-floor flat, in Festing Grove, as crews from Southsea fire station raced to the scene.

When they arrived they saw the man shouting at them from the window and smashed it before pulling him to safety. The fire, which is being treated as suspicious by police, was raging in the empty flat below and caused substantial damage.

Crew manager Steve Jolliffe, said: ‘We were called to a fire with a person involved. On arrival we were faced with heavy smoke issuing from the ground floor. We rescued the man by smashing a front window and escorting him down a ladder to safety.

‘He was quite calm considering. We got him out of the building and handed him over to the ambulance services.’

The man was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham. He has since been discharged.

Police say the cause of the fire, which broke out at 2.30am on Saturday, is being investigated.

Families living on either side of the property were evacuated and given blankets and cups of tea by neighbour Mary Williams as fire crews spent an hour and 20 minutes at the scene.

The University of Portsmouth lecturer said she feared the worst.

‘The blue flashing lights from the fire engines woke me up and I looked outside and saw the house opposite was filled with smoke,’ said Ms Williams.

‘I then saw the firefighters putting on breathing equipment and I thought “Oh God, there’s someone in there”.

‘They put a ladder up and shouted at the guy who lives there to stand back while they smashed the window. They got him and he climbed down the ladder.

‘Both the families either side have young children so they came in to me and we had tea. It was worrying but a huge relief when we saw this chap being rescued by the firefighters.’