Ilford police officer Matt Hill rescues 15 people from fire

A brave police constable risked his life to save 15 people from a burning building in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Pc Matt Hill, 39, was the first response officer at the scene of the fire which took hold of B.B. Fatima Cash and Carry, Ilford Lane, Ilford, trapping people in the flats above.

Police were called to the scene at 4.20am, but it was not until Mr Hill arrived that members of the public informed him residents could not escape.

As he reached the top of the stairs, he found the front rooms were also ablaze and the only way out was via the rear fire escape

Based at Ilford, Mr Hill said: “It was incredible how quickly the flames engulfed the building. But with the help of two members of the public who followed me up the stairs, we managed to get everyone to safety and without injury.

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“When I arrived on the scene and realised that people were trapped, my instincts took over.

“The priority was to get everyone out as quickly as possible.”

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Four fire engines, carrying around 20 firefighters, were in attendance and the blaze was brought under control an hour after the initial emergency call.

Borough commander Det Ch Sut Sue Williams said: “I am proud of the actions of Pc Hill.

“Police officers carry out acts of bravery every day but this was not an everyday occurrence.”

A fence has now been placed outside the building, covering the majority of the damage, but one business owner claims the fire has had an adverse affect on his trade.

Mr Singh, 43, owner of fashion store Libaas, Ilford Lane, said: “We are usually quite busy on Saturdays, but we were dead this weekend because of the fire.

“The snow would not keep my customers away normally, but we did not take one penny over the weekend.”

No one was injured in the fire, but the cause is being treated as suspicious.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact Ilford CID on 020 8345 2733 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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