NEIGHBOURS of the man who died trying to escape out a window during a fire said the alarms did not go off – and they were awoken by police knocking on their doors.
They said the man who died, and his housemates, used e-bikes – which ran on chargeable batteries – which they would leave in the corridor outside the flat.
Shortly after 2.15am yesterday morning emergency services were called to a fire at a block of flats in Easton, Bristol.
The fire was on the top floor of Twinnell House on Wills Drive, off Stapleton Road.
Avon Fire and Rescue Service sent eleven fire engines to the scene along with two turntable ladders and other specialist vehicles.
The fire was quickly extinguished however one person died and eight people were taken to hospital – seven for treatment for smoke inhalation and another for minor burns – while three others were treated by the ambulance service at the scene.
Bethel Nada, 38, and Eyob Gidey, 42, live on the same floor where the fire broke out with their two children.
They were woken up by police who knocked on their door at approximately 2.15am and managed to leave via the stairs.
Bethel said: “The police really did save our lives last night.
“There was no fire alarm going off at all, and people are fast asleep at that time of night so could have easily not woken up to them knocking.
“Our neighbour did not wake up initially to the knocks and he didn’t join us outside for a really long time.
“It was really scary but we managed to get out safe with our children so we are thankful for that.
“We left with just what we are wearing now. We are staying in a hotel nearby but we aren’t allowed back into our home yet – we just wanted to get some things but they wont let us and we don’t know when we can go back in.
“The man who died, I saw him around the building as you do, but never spoke to him.
“He lived with quite a few people in there. I don’t know if it was friends or family or whoever.
“Not all of them had a key – they would just leave the communal door unlocked to get in and out, which we did complain to the council about because it made us feel unsafe.
“They used to use these bikes which ran on electric batteries. You could see them in the corridor.
“It’s really sad that he died.”
Around 90 residents were evacuated and taken to a rest centre at St. Nicholas Of Tolentino RC Church, Lawfords Gate, where Bristol City Council provided welfare support to around 40 people.
Avon and Somerset Police Superintendent Tony Blatchford said: “This is a tragic incident in which a man has lost his life.
“While formal identification has not yet been carried out, we believe we know who the man is and have informed his next of kin. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.
“Enquiries into what happened have already begun and we will work closely with the fire service to fully understand what started the fire and how the man sadly died.
“I’d like to thank those who have been evacuated from their homes for their co-operation and understanding and promise them all agencies are working hard to enable them to return home as quickly as possible.”
Dave Hodges, Avon Fire and Rescue Service Duty Group Commander, said: “On arrival crews were faced with a serious fire on the 16th floor and deployed crews wearing breathing apparatus to tackle the fire and assist residents.
“The upper floors have been damaged by smoke and fire, and water damage has affected many flats on lower floors.
“The fire has now been contained and fire crews remain in attendance making the scene safe. We are working with our partner agencies to support the local community during this difficult time.
“Our sincere condolences go to the friends and family of the deceased.”
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the individual who has tragically lost their life in this incident.
“We’re grateful for the swift action of all emergency services and council officers involved to tackle this fire and support residents to the nearby place of safety. Officers are currently supporting the efforts underway to assess the damage and understand how the fire started.
“Residents affected by this tragic incident are being supported and those who require it will be helped into emergency accommodation whilst their homes remain inaccessible.”
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