Reading fire: Man’s ‘miracle’ escape from deadly flat fire jumping from third floor


The resident lives in a block of flats in Grovelands Road, Reading and described how he and a firefighter made the desperate leap after the blaze broke out shortly before 3am

Thames Valley Police have arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of murder and arson after a fire at a block of flats
Thames Valley Police have arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of murder and arson after a fire at a block of flats

A man has described his “miracle” escape after jumping from the third floor of a burning building that left one dead and several unaccounted for.

The resident lives in a block of flats in Grovelands Road, Reading and said he and a firefighter made the desperate leap after the blaze broke out shortly before 3am on Wednesday.

While wearing a bandage on his foot, he said: “I was woken up by an alarm and heard a loud explosion. I heard the people inside screaming and shouting – I think they were my neighbours.

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One resident has told about how he and a firefighter jumped from the third story of the building to escape
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Image:

Berkshire Live / Darren Pepe)

“I opened the door of my flat and saw a big cloud of smoke – and saw that the exit was trapped.

“A firefighter then came in and told me the building was on fire and to leave it now, so I jumped out of the window and so did he – it’s about 12ft.

“I landed okay but hurt my leg. I think the firefighter is in hospital, but I thought it was better to break my leg than die. I think it’s a miracle how it all happened.”

The resident said he was woken up to an alarm and a loud explosion
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Image:

Berkshire Live / Darren Pepe)

Thames Valley Police have arrested a 31-year-old man on suspicion of murder and arson.

He remains in custody as police say the blaze is not being treated as terror-related and urged people to avoid the area.

Thames Valley Police Superintendent Steve Raffield said it was “highly unlikely we will find any further survivors” as officers are staging a search and rescue operation with emergency services colleagues at the scene.

The fire broke out at the block of flats in Grovelands Road at 3am
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Image:

PA)

Mr Raffield said: “We have been working alongside our partner agencies to do everything we can to find signs of life.

“Sadly it is highly unlikely we will find any further survivors in the building.”

Emergency services remained at the scene into Wednesday, with police, ambulance crews and firefighters working at the badly damaged building.

Another man who lives near the flats said: “I was asleep this morning and we could smell and see black smoke pouring in the air.

The resident said he heard screaming and shouting before he jumped out the window
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Image:

Berkshire Live / Darren Pepe)

“There’s been a bit of commotion, I’ve never seen so many police and fire engines in my life.

“The building has been really badly damaged, parts of the roof have been torn off, windows are smashed and smoke has been coming out of it for hours.”

Four people have been treated in hospital following a fire in Reading, the ambulance service has confirmed.

Mark Ainsworth, operations director at South Central ambulance service, speaking at the scene, said: “Sadly, we have confirmed one person has died and a number of others are missing.

“In addition, we have treated four patients in hospital and seven patients were treated at the scene of the incident.”

Emergency services are carrying out a search and rescue mission
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Image:

PA)

A fire service spokesperson told BerkshireLive : “We are still at the scene of a significant incident in the Grovelands Road area of Reading. A number of fire appliances are attending and roads in the area are congested.”

An earlier statement by police said: “A 31-year-old man from Reading has been arrested on suspicion of arson and murder, and is in custody.

“We are working with our colleagues on a search and rescue operation and will exhaust all our efforts to find signs of life. We expect this phase of the operation to continue today and into the evening and perhaps beyond.

“A number of other people have been evacuated from the scene and are being cared for by the local authority and partners.”

Those with concerns about loved ones can call 0800 051 6079 or 020 7126 7641 from outside the UK.




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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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