Sunderland man tells of blaze escape

Ben Prescott had to be evacuated from the Chester Oval flats after a fire broke out directly above his flat.
Ben Prescott had to be evacuated from the Chester Oval flats after a fire broke out directly above his flat.
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A MAN today told how he had to be evacuated from his home after a blaze spread through the building.

As reported in Saturday’s Echo, a man and woman had to be rescued from the top floor of the new block of flats at Chester Oval, opposite the Royalty pub, in the early hours of the morning.

The balcony of the flat in Chester Oval where a fire broke out.

The balcony of the flat in Chester Oval where a fire broke out.

They were taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation but were released within hours.

Ben Prescott, a civil servant with HM Revenue and Customs, shares a flat below the scene of the blaze with partner Joanne Buck.

“It started at about 12.30am,” he said. “The alarm started going off throughout the building.”

The 25-year-old initially thought it might be a false alarm and went to investigate.

The balcony of the top flat in Chester Oval where a fire broke out.

The balcony of the top flat in Chester Oval where a fire broke out.

“I had gone out on to the landing to see what the problem was when someone said it was a real fire and they had seen smoke coming down the stairs,” he said.

“I grabbed my partner, put the cat in the basket and called the fire brigade. They just jumped into action.”

It was Ben who spotted one of the residents trying to get out and raised the alarm.

“All of a sudden I saw a bloke at the bedroom window,” he said.

“I went and told the fire crew, they got the ladders up and got him out of the window.

“He looked all right as he was coming down the ladder but afterwards he had to be helped because he couldn’t walk.

“The woman either couldn’t get out of the window or did not want to – they got her out of the front door.

“Pretty much everybody was gathered outside – the alarm is a really piercing sound that goes right through the flats, so outside was the only option.”

Initial police investigations led officers to believe arsonists may have been behind the blaze.

However, they have ruled this out for the time being.

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “Following inquiries, it is not believed any offences took place. However, inquiries are ongoing.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho