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Stratford fire traps families

PUBLISHED: 17:36 30 December 2016

Istiak Ahmed was trapped by the fire along with his wife and three children.

Istiak Ahmed was trapped by the fire along with his wife and three children.

Archant

Families fleeing from a fire at a block of flats have described how they feared for their lives after becoming trapped by flames.

The fire began on the first floor and spread to the flats above.The fire began on the first floor and spread to the flats above.

Stuck in a narrow alleyway running alongside the building, the families watched as fire crews from five stations fought the blaze.

Three ambulances, six fire engines and 35 firefighters rushed to Great Eastern Road, Stratford, on Thursday night after receiving a call at 11.12pm.

Father of three Istiak Ahmed, whose flat is in the same part of the building where the fire started, told the Recorder how he realised there was a fire when he smelt smoke in the corridor.

“Straightaway I ran away with my children,” he said.

“It was very scary. My children were really shocked. People were screaming and crying.”

Istiak, his wife Nazma and their three children, Sameera, seven, Ishraq, five and Ishfaq, aged two, were trapped with up to 30 people for 30 to 40 minutes.

People in the top floor flat were trapped on the roof before being rescued from the blaze, which gutted the first floor flat where it started and damaged homes on two storeys above.

Pauline Gharu, 54, whose flat in Grove Crescent Road is opposite the building, described hearing “a massive bang” before rushing outside to see flames shooting into the sky.

“It was quite nasty,” she said. “I was frightened for the residents. They just couldn’t get past the fire. It wasn’t pleasant to watch.”

By 1.14am firefighters had the fire under control.

The families were evacuated to a nearby pub, the Goldengrove, where they were given food and shelter by the staff and customers.

Three people were checked by paramedics, but no one was taken to hospital.

Following the fire, residents have criticised fire safety at the building, which is owned by Genesis Housing Association.

According to the tenants there are no fire alarms in the communal areas.

Without hearing a fire alarm, Nazma explained that if her husband had come home just five minutes later then she and her children might not have got out alive as just minutes after they managed to flee their escape route had filled with smoke and flames.

Thirty-three year old Nazma said: “I thought my life was at stake.

“We kept thinking, how are we going to escape?”

A spokesman for Genesis Housing said: “It must have been a frightening ordeal for the residents of this block - our staff were on site very quickly and worked with the emergency services to make sure everyone was looked after. We have been able to successfully and quickly move those residents immediately affected to temporary accommodation while we review the situation.

“As the fire safety posters inside the buildings clearly show, the flats are designed in such a way as to contain fires as far as possible. Time needs to be taken to assess this incident properly, but we are clear the block complies with relevant fire and building regulations. We will now await the report from the Fire Brigade.

“Our thanks go to our staff who dealt with the situation so well. However, most importantly, our thoughts go out to those residents who have been affected by this fire.

Genesis will continue to give them all the support we can in the coming period, including temporary re-housing, as they recover from what must have been a distressing experience.”


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