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Woman escapes from fire in flat above Tinseltown diner next to Gants Hill roundabout

PUBLISHED: 11:39 03 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:53 03 July 2013

The bathroom was wrecked by the blaze

The bathroom was wrecked by the blaze

Archant

A flat by the Gants Hill roundabout has been seriously damaged in a fire this morning after an electric heater set alight in a bathroom.

Emergency services at the scene of the fire near the Gants Hill roundabout.Emergency services at the scene of the fire near the Gants Hill roundabout.

Ilford firefighters were called to the flat above the Tinseltown American Diner, in Woodford Avenue, shortly before 7am this morning.

The flat’s tenant, Frankie Pratt, who is in her late 60s, escaped before crews arrived and was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Mrs Pratt smelt smoke after plugging an electric heater in to a socket in her kitchen and placing it in her bathroom next door.

She entered to find the heater on fire. Mrs Pratt said that as a switchboard operator at the Royal London Hospital she had received some fire training, and so knew to throw a wet towel over the heater after unplugging it.

Unfortunately the fire had already spread, destroying the bathroom.

Mrs Pratt said: “It all happened so fast, and unfortunately I didn’t think to shut the door, so the entire flat is smoke damaged. There’s ash everywhere.”

Mrs Pratt had gone to get a drink from the kitchen to take some medication, and was about to return to run a bath when she smelt smoke.

“As soon as I opened the bathroom door I could see flames,” she said.

She called the Fire Brigade immediately and left the flat. Fortunately a crew was close by, and so attended quickly. They took the heater away for investigation.

Mrs Pratt said she bought the heater only a couple of years ago, from Argos.

The Fire Brigade turned the electricity off initially, but it is now back on, although some light switches are not working.

Mrs Pratt, who has rented the flat for 27 years, and used to work in the premises below when it was a Natwest bank, said: “I felt very nervous when I saw the flames; very helpless. I’m very shocked.”

She is able to stay with her daughter, who lives nearby, until the bathroom has been repaired and the flat returned to a habitable state by the landlord and Keymove Lettings.

The diner downstairs did not appear to have sustained any damage, although smoke was visible from the street outside, with blackened curtains hanging from the open windows.

One lane was blocked at the Gants Hill roundabout while emergency services dealt with the incident, but it has since reopened.

Did you see the fire? Call 020 8477 3821 or email lizzie.dearden@archant.co.uk


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