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Firefighters battle blaze in block of flats started by heater to catch fleas


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RESIDENTS fled a block of flats as firefighters fought a blaze started by a heater to catch fleas.

Four fire engine crews battled the fire in a first-floor flat at the Kingswood estate in Kingswood Street, Brighton, around 3.45pm today. 

Residents fled the block of flats as smoked poured from the windows. 

A man who was in the property when the fire started told firefighters how he tried to put the fire out with a bowl of water.

The man, who did not want to be named, said: “I was downstairs when I heard the cat knock something over and run down the stairs. 

“I went upstairs into the bedroom to investigate and saw smoke. 

“I then went down stairs to fill up a bowl of water in the sink and threw it on the flames, and again. But it was obvious the fire was too much and would not go out.

“I then dialled 999.”

The middle-aged man was seen by The Argus receiving oxygen, but he did not need to be taken to hospital. 

No one was injured in the fire. 

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s watch commander David Statham said the fire had destroyed the man’s bedroom. 

He said: “The fire was caused accidentally by the failure of a heat lamp which is used to catch fleas.

“The bulb has popped and started a fire. There was quite a lot of stuff in the room to catch and it caught fire.

“The gentleman attempted to put the fire out two times, but it was too much and he left the property. The room has been destroyed.”

When The Argus visited the scene, fire crew were still putting out the blaze. The smell of smoke lingered in the air as it billowed from the blackened room, while concerned residents watched from the safety of grass verge. 

Wendy Ryan, 70, who lives on the same floor as the fire said she was in shock. She said: “I walked up to the estate and I was so surprised to see all the fire engines. “I thought ‘Oh my goodness. What is happening?’ “We have been here 40-odd years, and this has never happened. I’m just glad that nobody was hurt.”

Also at the scene was consort to the East Sussex High Sheriff who was shadowing Sussex Police officers who attended the fire.

Michael Chowen said: “I arrived on the scene with the police officers as I am having a day with them to experience the work they are doing.”I was very impressed with the way the police, fire and ambulance services were working side by side.”It made me feel very proud to see the way they were working.” 

The fire engines moved on around 4.15pm. 

Source: The Argus