NEIGHBOURS have described how a man in their apartment block was was lucky to survive after a fire broke out in his flat while he was asleep.
The individual was oblivious to his life being in danger after a blaze started at about 5pm on Monday in Southwood Road, Hayling Island.
But quick-thinking friends and neighbours, who heard smoke alarms going off, leapt to the rescue and banged down his door until the man finally awoke before they all fled to safety.
Flames tore through the flat – leaving it with significant smoke damage – but it was contained by the fire crews from Havant, Hayling Island, Cosham and Portchester who acted swiftly to put the fire out within an hour of it starting.
Resident John Ballard, 71, who lives in the block and had to be evacuated, said: ‘A neighbour banged on my door to tell me there was a fire – it was really going off. There was smoke everywhere. I have asthma so it was a bit of struggle for me to get out.
‘People were banging down his door to get him out. He’s lucky – he could have died.
‘One of the neighbours said they heard a loud bang and thought it was a car before realising it was actually the lounge window to his flat that had been smashed by the fire.’
Mr Ballard added: ‘Everyone evacuated the building and waited round the back in the car park while the firemen put the fire out by 5.40pm.
‘I’m just glad everyone was ok. It is one hell of mess in there and will take some clearing up.’
Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘My neighbour went round banging on everyone’s door to let us know there was a fire. I’m glad everyone was ok – it could have been far worse.’
Hayling Island Fire Station tweeted after the incident: ‘Smoke alarms do save lives. Today neighbours and friends woke an occupier of a flat on Hayling while a severe fire had taken hold in the lounge.’
Crews used two breathing apparatus, two main jets and one hose reel jet to put the fire out.
The man living in the property was treated at the scene but later taken to hospital for severe smoke inhalation, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service have said.