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Mum and three children escape fire on Portland
A MUM has told how she escaped from her flat with her three children as smoke from a fire next door started filling her home.
Sam Bowditch, 31, fled with her children in the middle of the night after a blaze at an empty shop began to spread to her Portland home.
Four fire engines and 22 firefighters were called to the blaze at the former climbing shop in Fortuneswell in the early hours of Saturday.
Miss Bowditch called the fire brigade before waking her children Russell, seven, Owen, nine, and Jasmine, 13, and leading them to safety in their pyjamas.
The blaze caused smoke damage to five nearby flats and residents were evacuated as a precaution.
Miss Bowditch said: “It’s lucky I was awake and could see the smoke when it first started coming through.
“The firefighters said the fire would have done more damage if I was asleep as it would have spread more.”
The cause of the electrical fire, which started in the former Rockies Climbing Shack Ltd shop, is believed to be accidental.
It burnt through a gas pipe and caused major damage to the shop, which has been empty for at least 10 years.
Miss Bowditch said: “My hallway was filled with smoke. When I was on the phone to the fire brigade they said ‘get out of the property’.”
The family of four stayed the night with Miss Bowditch’s family in Littlemoor, Weymouth.
The following day when Miss Bowditch was allowed to return to her home she had to wash down every room to remove the smell of smoke.
Ash and dust had collected in the flat and the mum-of-three had to wash all of the family’s clothes to remove the fumes.
She said: “I’ve had to wash down every room. The children have been staying with my friend.
“The main thing is it’s lucky I was woken and able to call 999 so quickly or it could have been more serious.”
FIRE crews were called to Fortuneswell at around 1.20am on Saturday.
A total of 22 firefighters in four fire engines battled the blaze, which had broken out in an empty shop on the main road through Fortuneswell.
A spokesman for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said five flats were damaged by smoke.
She said: “At 1.20am on Saturday the service received a call reporting the smell of smoke at Fortuneswell.
“Crews from Weymouth and Portland attended the commercial premises, it was a shop but is now derelict.
“The fire was on the shop’s ground floor.”
“A total of 22 firefighters attended.
“There was severe damage to the room and smoke damage to five flats.
“Police took care of the occupants of one of the flats and officers were on scene to monitor traffic.”
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