‘There was smoke everywhere’ – People flee as fire ripped through block of flats

The afternmath of a suspected arson at Botley Road, Park Gate. Pictured the morning after the fire on June 10. Picture: David George
The afternmath of a suspected arson at Botley Road, Park Gate. Pictured the morning after the fire on June 10. Picture: David George
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A TERRIFIED resident has told of the moment he fled his home as fire ripped through the building destroyed two flats.

Around 40 firefighters battled the major fire for five hours at flats in Botley Road, Park Gate, after being called at 10.30pm on Saturday night.

Police and fire investigators launched an arson probe yesterday after the blaze swept through the upper half of the building, destroying two flats and damaging the remaining six.

Two dogs, two rabbits and two goldfish were also rescued from the blaze. One of the dogs was found by firefighters three hours into tackling the blaze.

Graham Davanna, 57, was at home in his front ground-floor flat watching TV when he heard people screaming and banging on windows.

He told The News: ‘I could hear people shouting and screaming.

‘People were banging on their windows for help. Then somebody knocked on my door and said I had to get out.

‘I stepped outside and there was just smoke everywhere, you couldn’t see anything else.

‘You don’t have much time to think about things like that – you just have to get out.

‘Then we were shipped off to the social club for the night. I’m being let back in but I don’t know how bad the damage will be.

‘I’ve spoken to the owner of the building and he says he’ll get things sorted for us as quickly as possible.’

Neighbour Roger Webb, 71, lives next to the block of flats. He said: ‘All of a sudden I heard this massive explosion, followed by a bright orange glow.

‘I looked out of my window and the whole thing was ablaze.

‘I ran upstairs to see what was happening and could see that the damage was significant.

‘The flames were going around the flat but then started to lick below the balcony, then spread to the rest of the building.

‘Once the fire hit the roof there were jets of flames shooting 3ft up into the air.’

No-one was hurt in the fire at the Park Gate block but two first-floor flats and the roof of the building were badly affected by the flames, the fire service said.

A statement added: ‘At its peak, around 40 firefighters tackled the fire, using jets, hose reels and breathing apparatus.’

‘We had eight pumps at the incident, including crews from Southsea, Cosham and Portchester.’

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘The incident is being treated as arson and investigations are ongoing.’

Anyone with information should call police on 101 quoting 44180215549.