Hero leads residents to safety in Upton Park fire

Upton Park residents caught up in a major shop blaze were led to safety by a heroic stranger on Thursday night.

Six engines and about 30 firefighters were called to shops on Plashet Road at 8.31pm on September 22.

Meanwhile, Umar Amin was on his way to buy a curry on Green Street returning from a friend’s house when he saw a large amount of smoke in the next street.

He followed it and found a shop, with adjoining properties and flats above it, on fire.

Umar, 30, said: “My instincts told me, ‘There is a serious fire happening here’, and I immediately shouted out for someone to call the fire brigade and police. I looked up and thought, ‘I have to get the people out from the flats above the shop’, so I ran up the entrance and banged on all the doors.

“People where screaming and in panic and I was shouting, ‘Get out there is a fire!’

“I was scared when I got to the last level and the fire got really bad. I thought ‘I can’t die here, pretending to be a hero, I will have to jump out of the window if it gets any worse.”

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Umar, from Leyton, said that residents thought his attempts to get them out was a robbery at first and one woman even insisted on turning her cooker off.

He recalled: “I said to her, ‘It’s the curry or your life! You’ve got to leave it or get out!’

Umar told the Recorder how he was about to put his first aid training with St John’s Ambulance to the test when he grabbed a fire extinguisher to take on the blaze but, fortunately, fire crews arrived.

He said: “They thanked me and said I did a brave and good thing but I said to them ‘No, you’re the real hero, I just did what I had to do.’”

Umar returned to his house in Leyton to tell his fiancee Mashuda, a teacher at Azhar Academy on Romford Road, about his heroics who he described as “so proud of me.”

Half of the ground floor of the shop was damaged along with part of the first floor.

Firefighters from East Ham, Plaistow, Stratford and Bow brought the flames under control at 2.24am and the cause is under investigation.