Flat fire sparks safety warning



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A FLAT fire in Elmer has led to a safety warning from firefighters.

Firefighters are reminding people of the dangers of late night cooking and drinking after a man had to be rescued from a fire in his home in the early hours of this morning (Friday, August 8).

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was called to the two-storey block of flats in Manor Way at 12.53am after the occupier of the ground floor flat, a man in his 50s who had been drinking, fell asleep leaving a pan burning on the hob.

Fortunately, the flat was fitted with an working smoke detector, which alerted the occupier of a neighbouring flat to the developing fire.

The quick-acting neighbour forced entry to the ground floor flat and rescued the sleeping occupier before raising the alarm.

Both men were later taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

A crew from Bognor Regis Fire Station were on the scene within minutes of the alarm being raised and saw smoke and flames pouring from the flat’s windows and door, which had blown out from the intensity of the fire.

Three additional fire crews were immediately requested while the initial firefighting operations got underway.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus carried out a search of the whole block of flats but thankfully all the occupiers had already safely evacuated.

The blaze was then quickly brought under control and extinguished using jets and hoses.

Incident commander and green watch manager from Bognor Regis Fire Station, Jon Etherington, said afterwards: “This man had a very lucky escape.

“Had it not been for the neighbour’s brave actions, this may very well have ended in tragedy.

“While we would remind people not to put themselves in harm’s way by entering a property they believe is on fire, we would urge people to act if they hear a smoke alarm going off for any length of time in a neighbouring property.

“Don’t ignore it, call 999, you may just save a life.

“This is not an isolated incident.

“Cooking is by far the most common cause of house fire we attend. We’d ask people to think twice about getting the pan out if they are very tired or have been drinking; it really is a recipe for disaster.

“Don’t take the risk of putting the hob or grill on - just make something that doesn’t need to be cooked instead.”

“We’re very thankful that the man’s home was fitted with a working smoke alarm, although he wasn’t roused by it, his neighbour was and that made a life-saving difference.

“If you have an older or vulnerable relative or neighbour who hasn’t got a working smoke alarm, then please encourage them to get in touch with us for a free Home Fire Safety Check.”

The flat sustained considerable fire, smoke and heat damage. Two neighbouring flats were also damaged by fire and smoke.

To request a Home Fire Safety Check call free on 0800 328 6487 or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire