Homeowners trapped in Crouch End fatal fire

WITNESSES have described how residents were trapped in a block of Crouch End flats as it filled with thick black smoke during a blaze which claimed the life of a 57-year-old woman.

A 21-year-old man was hospitalised and then arrested in connection with the fire, which took over Alyn Court on Crescent Road around 4pm on Monday afternoon. He has now been released on bail.

The woman has been identified as 57-year-old Vivian Addo after a post mortem was carried out yesterday.

Two women had to be rescued from the second floor of the building, and another from the first floor. All three were treated for smoke inhalation.

Neighbours of Ms Addo said they saw little of her and “she kept herself to herself”.

A couple who live in the flats, and asked not to be named, described the dramatic moments when they escaped the blaze, only to realise others were trapped.

The woman said: “About 3.45pm my husband saw a bit of smoke coming up by the window, but we thought it was just builder’s dust.

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“My husband then popped out, but returned two minutes later and said, ‘Get out quickly, the place is on fire’.

“We went out the door and it was thick, black smoke and I had my coat over my face, it was horrendous – it was acrid and horrible.

“As we ran down through the black you could hear everyone’s alarms going off – when we got downstairs we could not see the front door, but we just ran towards it and about a foot before we got there, you could see the light.

“When we got outside we called the emergency services. When we looked up, the two ladies above us were on the balcony trapped.

“We realised they couldn’t get out and so they shouted they were going to climb down some rope, but at that moment, the emergency services came and took over and got them down using a ladder.”

Hugh Burrows, who lives in the flat opposite where the woman lived and where it is believed the fire started, returned from work to find the building on fire.

“I was panicked about the building and upset to hear someone had died, even if it was someone I didn’t really know – she kept herself to herself – it’s a horrible thing to happen.”

Police and four fire engines rushed to the scene of the fire, where firefighters found part of a flat on the lower ground floor of the building damaged by fire. Inside they found the body of the woman.

Fire crews from Hornsey had the blaze under control by just before 6pm and residents were escorted back into their flats just after 6.30pm.

A police spokeswoman said the fire is being treated as “unexplained” and they are investigating the matter.