A HEAVILY pregnant woman was among the dozens rescued in a dramatic Christmas Day fire in a block of flats in Grays.
The incident took place at just before midnight in Albany Heights, Hogg Lane, Grays.
Leading Firefighter Brian Adams from Orsett Fire Station said:
“Firefighters were called to a fire in the block of flats late on Christmas day evening, the fire is believed to have broken out in the communal corridor on the third floor of the builiding as it was heavily smoke logged.
“Fire crews rescued seven of the residents, including a heavily pregnant lady, from the third floor of the building. They were led to safety by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and all of the residents were assessed by the Ambulance Service.
“Meanwhile while the rescue operation was taking place, firefighters were tackling the fire and checking that residents were not trapped in their flats, crews had to break-down some of the flat doors to check if residents were home.
Lff Brian Adams added: “Our thoughts go out to everyone who was affected by the fire, it is terrible to have a fire in your home, especially at Christmas time. It is fortunate that no one was hurt or badly injured.
“Many of the residents that were evacauted were in bed asleep or getting ready to go to bed so had to leave their properties in their night clothes and dressing gowns. They took shelter in waiting ambulances and their cars to keep warm while fire crews tackled the fire.
“The corridor leading to the flats had been badly affected by the fire, so five families have been unable to return back to their flats and have been made homeless, they are staying with friends and families. The rest of the residents on the lower floors were allowed back in there flats once crews had extinguished the fire and cleared the building of smoke.
“Firefighters did an excellent job in containing the fire to the corridor area and preventing it from spreading to flats. Crews worked extremely well in making sure that everyone was safely evacuated from approximately 20 flats in the block spread over three floors.
Crews used a total of eight sets of breathing apparatus and used two hose reels to extinguish the fire by 00:52hrs A high pressure fan was used to clear the area free of smoke.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, ECFRS and the police will carry out an investigation.
It is the second time there has been a fire at Albany Heights in three years. Firefighters were called there in July 2008.