SCARED residents have admitted they feared the worst have hearing ‘screams’ from a flat fire – before the community rallied to help save four people trapped inside.
Horrified neighbours said they could not believe their eyes when they saw a four year old girl, a woman in her 50s and a man and woman in their 20s stranded inside the burning building in Jervis Drive, Gosport just before midnight on Wednesday.
All four were believed to have suffered smoke inhalation with the child taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital as a precaution after residents helped them climb down from the four metre high window.
Police are investigating an allegation of arson with intent to endanger life – with a 28-year-old man from Gosport arrested.
Residents have described the carnage that unfolded. A woman, who lives in the block but wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘I hear a loud banging noise and someone screaming out “help me”.
‘A child was dropped out of the window into the arms of people who had rushed over to help them down. Then a woman lowered herself onto the window ledge before dropping onto the arms of a man before they both fell on the floor.
‘There was lots of people there to help – it was a great community effort. Someone had smashed the window and was throwing water onto the fire while there was lots of people supporting those who were climbing out the window.’
She added: ‘It’s very close to home but I feel nothing but sorrow for the people who were inside.’
Another resident said: ‘We heard the cries for help. My husband went over to help out. He put the young couple onto his shoulders to help get them down. Everyone is just glad they are all OK.’
Ben Coombes, 29, and his partner Rachelle Pipe, 24, heard a commotion. Ben said: ‘We heard a loud bang and people shouting. There was a young child who was being passed out the window.’
Rachelle added: ‘It was scary but we are pleased everyone is OK. Everyone evacuated the building but we were back in after about half an hour.’
A joint police and fire investigation into the cause of the fire is now underway with forensic teams with sniffer dogs attending the scene this morning.
Anyone with information should contact 101 quoting reference 44180400893 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.