Carnhill residents rescued from burning flats

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More than a dozen people had to be rescued after a suspected arson attack at a block of flats in the Carnhill area of Derry early this morning.

The PSNI said the blaze was discovered at around 6.30am in a stairwell of the property.

Two PSNI officers pictured at the flats in Carnhill this morning, scene of an early morning suspected arson attack. DER4613JM020

Two PSNI officers pictured at the flats in Carnhill this morning, scene of an early morning suspected arson attack. DER4613JM020

No-one was injured during the fire but residents who had to evacuate the building were left badly shaken by the ordeal.

One of the residents, Laurence Cooke, told how he was alerted by the smoke alarm going off in his flat. Mr. Cooke, who only moved into the property recently, was unable to breathe when he went into the smoke-logged hallway and had to go back into his flat.

He alerted the neighbour in the flat below him by reaching down and banging on his living room window.

Mr Cooke said his main concern was also for a couple with a one-year-old baby son living in the flats.

He prepared himself to jump from his first floor window and spoke of his relief at the Fire and Rescue Service arriving so quickly.

Mr Cooke said he felt angered and concerned at the possibility the fire may have been started deliberately.

It is believed the blaze started after a piece of carpet on a ground floor communal area was set alight

Sinn Féin Councillor Tony Hassan also praised the quick response from the Fire Brigade.

“This must have been a very frightening experience for the residents, particularly as this fire took hold early in the morning and a number of people including very young children were trapped in a first floor flat.

“I would like to commend the quick response from the Fire Service in helping save the lives of the residents.

“I would urge anyone with information on it to contact the police immediately,” he said.

(For further coverage see the Sunday Journal)