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Fire chief's smoke alarm warning after man escapes blazing Torquay flat

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

aftermath: The rear of the property in St Marychurch Road, Torquay

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RESIDENTS of a block of flats in Torquay have told of their horror after waking up to an 'inferno' in the building.

Terry Salter was woken in the dead of night by someone saying the flat next door in St Marychurch Road was on fire.

"I had heard some noise, but didn't think anything of it. I thought people were just letting off fireworks as there was lots of popping," he said.

"I opened my window and saw flames coming from next door. I got up and had to duck under the flames coming from the front door. I was very lucky to get out. The only damage to my flat is from the smoke. It was an inferno."

Another neighbour, Curtis Brady, recalls someone banging on his window shortly after 4.20am on Saturday morning.

He said: "I was in bed and got up to look out the window and saw Steve, who lives in the flat that was on fire. He was telling me to get out and I could see lots of smoke. His face was black from the fire.

"I suffer from asthma and the smoke really made it play up."

Fire crews were quickly on scene and got eight neighbouring residents to safety.

The occupant of the flat on fire was already outside when the crews arrived.

The fire was in the first floor flat of the two-storey building .

"The blaze was well developed by the time we got there," said Gary Judge, watch manager at Torquay.

"It was important for us to get residents out as there was a lot of smoke.

"The home was completely gutted by the blaze."

It is thought a television left on standby may have been the cause of the fire.

"We would like to remind people to turn off electrical appliances as they can be dangerous," said watch manager Judge.

"This flat also didn't have a smoke detector. They are vital and can save lives. Luckily, in this instance, the residents woke up as they heard the fire taking hold, but this story could have been very different."

Fire crews were at the scene for more than three hours and used six sets of breathing apparatus, three hose reels, the aerial ladder platform, thermal imaging camera, small tools and portable lighting to deal with the fire.

Crews then spent a further period to damping down the property.

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