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‘There were clouds of smoke and I heard a scream’: Witnesses describe Barkingside fire terror

11:44 25 January 2013

The fire viewed from Forest Road. Photo: Rick Hurrell

The fire viewed from Forest Road. Photo: Rick Hurrell

Archant

Witnesses have described hearing screams coming from a terrified family trying to escape a house fire in Barkingside on Tuesday.

There were no fatalities in the blaze, which burnt out the parts of the first and ground floors of the home.

Nine people, including an elderly couple and two young children, were trapped upstairs as the staircase burned.

A nearby resident, who did not want to be named, said: “We didn’t know what had happened at first.

“There were clouds of smoke and all of a sudden I heard a scream.

“I didn’t take any notice because children are always playing on their way to the sports centre so I assumed it was that.

“But then saw a fireman carrying a small baby in his arms and put it in an ambulance.”

Rick Hurrell saw the fire from outside his house in Forest Road.

He said: “There was screaming inside the house when I went outside.

“The smoke was really billowing out of the roof.

“I saw women in dressing gowns holding a baby.”

The one-year-old child and another aged three were lowered to firefighters from upstairs windows before ladders were used to get four adults to safety.

A woman jumped out a first floor window and another person was found trying to escape from a flat roof at the rear of the property.

Firefighters with breathing apparatus had to enter the burning building to rescue an elderly woman in her 70s.

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said she was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, as a priority for smoke inhalation.

The children, an elderly man and two women in their 30s were also taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, but only as a precaution.

Happy Singh, who is working on renovations to the house next door, believes the family have left the house since the tragedy.

He said: “I saw the fire on the inside, there were a lot of flames.

“The people were panicking. They were very scared and I was scared for them as well.”

The outside looks undamaged but the blackened and damaged windows show the ferocity of the blaze.

Investigators from the London Fire Brigade found the fire was caused by an electrical fault in a fuse box under the stairs.

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