Man saves baby from London tower block fire
- 13 July 2010
- From the section London
A mother has described how a stranger saved her baby as a fire swept through a tower block in south-west London.
The flames took hold on Monday afternoon in the top four floors of the 15-storey Madingley block on the Cambridge Estate, Kingston upon Thames.
Up to 100 firefighters fought the fire, which is being treated as suspicious. A 32-year-old woman has been arrested.
Sharon O' Shea told BBC London how Tommy Mackay, 22, kicked her door down and rescued her child.
Ms O' Shea said she had left the flat to dispose of a nappy when the door closed behind her, locking the youngster inside.
She said: "All of a sudden a bloke came running and said there was a fire and we had to get out.
"I said, 'I can't, my baby is stuck'.
"Another guy came and banged the door down until we could get the baby out."
Ms O' Shea added: "If it was not for him my baby would be dead - the flat was completely gutted."
Residents said they were forced to use the lift to escape despite the danger because of the speed the fire was spreading.
No-one suffered injuries in the fire, which took four hours to bring under control.
The block of 60 flats in St Peter's Road was built in the 1960s and housed up to 150 people.
Marion Robinson, who lives on the 14th floor, was home with her two grandchildren aged five and two when the fire began.
She said: "We went out of the front door and we had to go down in the lift.
"I know with the fire they always say 'don't go in the lift', but people (neighbours) were banging on doors and they said you have to go in the lift because it was quite a fierce fire."
Mrs Robinson was concerned about the general safety of tower blocks after a fire in Camberwell last year, which killed six people, but added she had previously felt her particular building was secure.
Ramesh Suntharalangiam, who was home with his pregnant wife and seven-month-old daughter on the 10th floor, said they had also had to take the lift.
He said: "I took the baby and came out, and (my wife) couldn't walk from the 10th floor so I had to take the lift unfortunately.
"My wife was screaming inside the lift. But we needed to come out, that was the main thing in my mind."
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said they do not advise using lifts to evacuate a building and added that keeping the lift busy could delay their action.
Referring to the condition of the building, Councillor Frances Moseley said: "The building hasn't collapsed in any way and its only fire damage. There hasn't been a sort of structural failure."
The council said it could allow residents to return to the building with escorts later to get their belongings.