Landlord says man was lucky to cheat death in Portsmouth house fire

Landlord John Harris outside the shop in New Road, Portsmouth Picture: Malcolm Wells (180227-8229)
Landlord John Harris outside the shop in New Road, Portsmouth Picture: Malcolm Wells (180227-8229)
St David's Road in Fratton, Portsmouth. Picture: Google Maps

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A MAN was ‘very lucky’ to escape with his life when a fire broke out in a top floor flat while he was sleeping.

Flames ripped through the apartment in New Road at around 5am on Saturday while the man was in his bed before a neighbour walking past sounded the alarm after seeing the blaze.

After escaping the property, the tenant - who is now said to be homeless after the front room of the flat was gutted - was treated for smoke inhalation and given oxygen before he was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Freeholder of the block, John Harris, who used to run The Model Shop from the apartment below before moving it to Kingston Road just two weeks ago, told The News he was woken to the sounds of sirens and blue flashing lights but had no idea it was coming from his property a few doors along from where he lives.

‘I heard the noise and saw the lights and went outside to take a look before I discovered it was coming from my apartment down the road. It was total shock horror,’ he said.

‘Thank goodness someone walking past sounded the alarm otherwise the sleeping man would have been dead. He hadn’t realised what was happening – he was very lucky.

‘It has not been a good experience for all concerned, especially the man who is now homeless and sofa surfing as a result of the fire. At least it was not a fatality which could have easily been the case but for the person who happened to be walking past.’

Mr Harris added: ‘The whole of the front room has been gutted and the rest of the place has been ruined by smoke damage but it could have been much worse - the whole building could have gone.

‘We’re lucky we moved our business a couple of weeks before otherwise it would be ruined. They think the fire started due to an electrical fault.’

A spokesperson for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed they were called to an incident at just after 5am on Saturday with two engines from Southsea attending.

‘There was one conscious casualty who was suffering with smoke inhalation and had to be taken to hospital. No police were called. Crews left the scene at 6.50am.’