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Fifteen rescued from blaze at block of flats in Weymouth town centre
FIFTEEN people were rescued after a fire at a block of flats in Weymouth town centre.
The blaze started just after 6pm last night in one of the flats at Brenda Dench House between St Mary Street and Maiden Street.
Residents of the building, which contains nine flats, had to be led to safety by firefighters.
Two Weymouth fire crews and one Portland crew had to break into three flats to make sure everyone was safely accounted for and evacuated.
A spokesman for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said that crews arrived within five minutes and that during that time fire control staff provided fire survival guidance to residents of the flats.
He said: “This included closing all internal doors, opening a nearby window to gain access to fresh air, putting blankets and clothes at the foot of the closed door to stop the smoke entering the room and waving bright colourful items out of the window so fire crews could easily establish their location.
“Fire control staff remained on the phone with these callers and were able to reassure them fire crews were on the way.”
Tenants of the complex, owned by a housing association, des-cribed how the drama unfolded and praised firefighters.
Resident, Jayne Godden and her family, daughters Jasmine, 13, and Amber, two, were led to safety by the fire men.
She said: “There was smoke everywhere.
“It was very hard to breathe.”
Thanking their rescuers and paying tribute to them, she said: “They risked their lives to save us all.”
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, added: “The fire alarms went off and we got a knock on the door telling us to get out because there was smoke.
“We went outside and there was lots of smoke coming out of it.”
Residents in the building said the fire had started in one flat’s tumble dryer.
The fire service said that investigations were continuing into the blaze.
Speaking at the scene watch manager Dave Allan, from Weymouth fire station, said that when fire crews arrived on scene there was smoke coming from the building.
He said they had to check all nine flats to make sure everyone was safe.
He added that working smoke alarms alerted the flats’ occupants to the fire and urged people to check their home alarms regularly.
He said: “As a result we managed to evacuate 15 people.”
Watch manager Allan said that one woman had to be treated by the ambulance after she went back into the building to try and save her pets.
He urged the public never to return to a building on fire. He said: “Never go back in to fight a fire or to get pets.
“Please, get out, stay out and call the fire brigade.”