Woman ‘lucky to be alive’ after fire rips through her Portsmouth home

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Neighbours have told of their horror after flames tore through a woman’s home leaving her in hospital with burns and killing two pet dogs.

The blaze took hold of the terraced house in Powerscourt Road, North End, on Saturday.

Firefighters were beaten back by flames which reached temperatures of more than 650C.

The 64-year-old homeowner was taken to hospital after fleeing the fire and suffered a burn to her face.

Emma Lennard, 38, lives opposite and rushed out to help the injured woman.

Mrs Lennard said: ‘I went out there and the lady had just come out – she was covered in black soot.

‘She was really shaken up. She said she was just getting in the shower so she was upstairs.

‘You wouldn’t wish it on anyone – she’s lost her two dogs – everything.’

Nine people were evacuated from five surrounding homes.

Husband and wife John and Caroline Powell are immediate next-door neighbours.

Their home was damaged by heat through an adjoining wall.

Mrs Powell, 68, who was out with her husband, 71, at the time, said: ‘She’s lucky to get out alive.’

Six crews, three from Southsea, two from Cosham and one from Portchester, tackled the fire on Saturday at 10.20am and they remained on scene into the evening to dampen down the blaze. But flames erupted again in the afternoon.

Mr Powell added: ‘Flames shot out of the back bedroom window.’

Firefighters were beaten back by flames when they first went into the house.

They smashed the ground floor living room windows, firing in water with a jet hose and used ventilation fans before going back in.

Station manager Ty Whitlock – training boss at Hampshire fire service – said: ‘I can’t emphasise enough the efforts, actions and hard work of the crews deployed into that fire.

‘Their quick-thinking and actions prevented an escalation.’

He said the crews were faced with heat that reached more than 650C in the house.

‘Firefighters were faced with arduous conditions in terms of heat, smoke and poor visibility,’ Mr Whitlock added.

‘This was a significant fire on our attendance.

‘It spread in the hallway, other living rooms, up through the stairs and there was smoke in bedrooms.’

The fire started in the kitchen and the cause is being investigated.

‘We have no cause to feel that this is a suspicious fire,’ Mr Whitlock added.