Five men "risked their lives" to try to save a man from a fire that engulfed a flat.

Four builders and an 82-year-old man worked together to carry the man to safety from the burning flat in Parliament Hill on Monday (January 15).

Despite their "incredibly brave" efforts, he died the following day.

The fire broke out at about 11.30am as workers for CT Build Contractors were renovating a converted house across the road.

As soon as a neighbour asked for fire extinguishers, carpenters Alan Scott and Dan Wheeler grabbed theirs and dashed into the burning flat - without any protective gear.

Moments later, two off duty firemen working as builders nearby saw the smoke and also rushed to the scene. 

Meanwhile, an 82-year-old neighbour smashed the window of the ground floor flat to let the smoke out, cutting his hands in the process.

"It was terrifying," said one of the off-duty firefighters, who asked not to be named.

"I heard there were tenants upstairs and tried to get up the building but the smoke was really thick."

The firefighter had been told there was someone living in the ground floor flat so followed his colleague in to where Dan and Alex were already fighting the flames.

"At that point we saw two men in the bedroom spraying extinguishers into the fire," he added.

"We were on our hands and knees and could see a guy on the floor, could see his body glistening from the light from the flames."

One fireman got under the man's arms and the other his feet to carry him out, but the door to the bedroom swung closed.

Ham & High: The window of the Parliament Hill flat that was destroyed by fireThe window of the Parliament Hill flat that was destroyed by fire (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

"It was terrifying but we managed to get it open," he added.

"What we were doing was incredibly stupid, you can only take two to four lungfuls of smoke before collapsing but we were working on adrenaline."

As they walked out the front door with the man, they found West Hampstead fire crews "right there".

All were taken to hospital, but the man they had saved, a 67-year-old, was in a critical condition and died the following day.

The off-duty firefighter added: "It was a joint effort. Dan and Alan were really good guys, they deserve a lot of credit.

Ham & High: One of the fire engines in Parliament HillOne of the fire engines in Parliament Hill (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

"It was a brilliant effort by all involved, the 82-year-old was phenomenal."

CT Build site manager Ashley Andrews said the two carpenters were "pretty shook up, as you would expect".

He added: "They are very brave lads, they risked their lives. They said there was zero visibility, it was hard to breathe.

"They came out and sat on the kerb, both puffed out. One of the boys had a dust mask which is hardly suitable, the other had nothing."

Chris Tabard, director of CT Build, said the men were "incredibly brave".

The cause of the fire is under investigation.