Victoria Street first floor flat blaze was ‘seconds away’ from potential tragedy

Fire fighters smashed down a security door to save a woman from certain death in a blazing Barnstaple flat last night (Tuesday).

They were called to Victoria Street at 8.15pm to discover a young woman in her 20s trapped in the first floor property.

Group Commander Neil Blackburn said she would not climb down a ladder at her window and crews were forced to break down a triple-locked front door to get her out with moments to spare.

"She was very lucky, she had breathed in a lot of smoke and taken in a lot of soot," he said.

"There was probably only seconds in it. The Barnstaple crew did a great job - they were able to break the door in and they got her out very quickly.

"I don't think it would have been much longer before she was overcome by the smoke."

The woman was treated at the scene by South Western Ambulance Service paramedics and then she was taken to hospital, thought to be as a precaution.

Group Commander Blackburn said the fire was thought to have been caused by something falling from the stove and reminded people not to store anything next to a cooker.

But more importantly, he urged people to ensure they could easily get out in the event of a fire. He said in this case the door had been locked from the inside and then the resident was unable to find the key as the flat filled with smoke.

"Ideally people should have a door that is easy to open, with a push bar or Yale-type lock," he said.

"If it does have a key, leave it in the door or at least somewhere you can easily find it."

* Landlords or tenants who would like to receive fire safety advice can contact Barnstaple Fire Station on 01271 334400.