West Hampstead fire: Police investigate suspected arson attack after woman jumps from burning house
18:22 18 March 2014
Police are investigating a suspected arson attack at a converted house in West Hampstead - after a woman jumped from a window of the burning building as fire ransacked the ground floor.
The woman suffered injuries, believed to be a broken leg, as she plunged from the first floor of a property containing 15 flats in Broadhurst Gardens at about 3am this morning.
Firefighters arrived to find residents screaming and shouting for help as flames blocked the front door.
“I awoke to the fire alarm and there was a stench of burning plastic,” said Keith Vardy, 46, who lives in one of 15 flats inside the building.
“There was smoke bellowing through the house and the front door was bright orange with fire.
“I’m on the ground floor so I could jump out the window but one poor woman on the first floor had to jump out a back window - which is a long fall.”
Fire crews rescued another six people, leading a woman and two men to safety by ladder from the first floor and using breathing apparatus to help three men who were trapped inside the property
All six were treated for smoke inhalation.
Firefighter Keith Malecki, who was at the scene, said: “They were woken up by their smoke alarms going off, which saved their lives.
“If you have a fire, especially in the middle of the night, it could be the difference between life and death.”
The fire appeared to start close to the door - leading police to suspect arson.
It was under control by 4.30am and its cause is under investigation.