Warning issued after flat fire in Portsmouth

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FIREFIGHTERS have issued a warning to homeowners after a kitchen blaze in a flat sparked a major response.

About 45 firefighters from across Southsea, Havant and Cosham were called out to the incident at Sarah Robinson House, in Queen Street, Portsea this afternoon.

The scene in Queen Street after a fire started in a flat on the eighth floor

The scene in Queen Street after a fire started in a flat on the eighth floor

It came after reports of smoke belching from a window of a flat on the eighth floor of the tower block.

The service launched a full emergency high-rise response, with nine crews attending the scene, accompanied by support teams, police and senior firefighters. They were led by watch manager Lacey Plumbley from Southsea fire station.

Armed with hoses and breathing apparatuses, crews entered the building and helped some of the residents leave the block.

Upon entering the smoke-clogged home where the fire started, officers discovered that an electric hob had been left switched on by the owner which had accidentally ignited the blaze.

Firefighters in Queen Street, Portsea, outside Sarah Robinson House

Firefighters in Queen Street, Portsea, outside Sarah Robinson House

The fire was extinguished quickly and nobody was injured; the owner of the flat was not home at the time.

Crew manager Steve Jolliffe, of Southsea fire station, is now issuing a warning in the hope of avoiding potential tragedies in the city.

He said: ‘If you go out don’t leave cookers on. Make sure that electric hobs are turned off and don’t leave anything on or near them to reduce the risk of a fire.

‘Everyone should make sure they have working smoke alarms.’

This is the second fire in recent months at the complex. The last was on the first floor a few weeks ago.

Residents have since spoken of their shock following today’s incident.

John Drew, who lives on the eighth floor, was having a bath when the emergency kicked off.

He said: ‘It was surreal really. I didn’t really believe it. There was smoke coming through into my flat.

‘My neighbours thought it was me because I’m a bit absent-minded.’

He added that he had safety concerns over the building, which he said had not had rubbish bags cleared from the floor for several days.

‘After Grenfell’s fire London’s mayor Sadiq Khan said all tower blocks should be knocked down, they’re a mistake,’ he said.

‘These were opened when England won the World Cup in 1966, they’re only designed with one escape stairwell, if there’s a severe fire that has taken hold you can’t use the stairs because of the smoke.’

The site is run by Portsmouth City Council.

The News has approached the council for comment.

Firefighters left the scene at about 3.20pm after being alerted to the incident at 1.40pm.