Mile Cross house fire: Girls describe moment they saw smoke pouring from home and raised the alarm on Tuesday night
- Credit: Archant
A group of teenage girls told today how they raised the alarm when they realised a family of five were still in a burning house in Mile Cross on Tuesday night.
The friends were walking back from a late night trip to McDonald's at around 11pm when they heard a loud pop and sound of glass breaking.
Lacey Collier, 16, from Norwich, Anya Tang, 17, from Norwich, and Summer Sandford, 17, from Stowmarket, were walking down Mile Cross Road when they saw smoke.
'We realised it was coming from the house opposite mine so we ran over,' Anya said.
That was when they spotted a television on upstairs.
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Anya added: 'I know children live there so I rushed to get my step dad - that was when I saw the flames inside the house - it was so scary.'
The girls started shouting and banging in a desperate attempt to wake up the family and Summer called 999.
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Summer said: 'Smoke was pouring out of the house - we knew they had to get out soon.'
Gene Cushing, 32, of Mile Cross Road - Anya's stepfather - jumped over his fence and ran across the road.
Lacey said: 'He was banging on the door shouting 'there's a fire' but no one was answering. I was getting really nervous.
'He was banging on the front door and telling them to get out but there still wasn't any noise. That was when he smashed the glass to wake them up.'
The front door opened and the family of five rushed outside in their pyjamas.
'The children were crying and they all seemed confused and in shock,' Lacey said. 'Smoke was everywhere and Gene's hand was a mess - that was when it went manic with fire engines and ambulances everywhere.'
Two adults, two boys and a girl made it out of the house before the fire service arrived and took shelter in Mr Cushing's home.
The family's three dogs were rescued by firefighters.
They were all taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
Firefighters said that the fire was started by candles left unattended in a downstairs bathroom.
Although the house, in Mile Cross Road, had smoke alarms, they weren't working.
Rob Burling, watch manager, said: '[The passer-by] broke the window to raise the alarm and the reason he did that was because they did not have any working smoke alarms.
'If that passer-by had not noticed the fire, with no working smoke alarms they would not have been walking out of the property.'
Kevin Goodall, the cousin of one of the adults in the fire-hit house, rushed to the scene from his home a few doors down.
He said: 'I was shocked when I came home last night and saw the ambulances - I thought someone had had a car crash - and then a neighbour told me my cousin's house was on fire. I ran down there - I was a bit worried and thought something might have happened to the kids.
'They are all fine and the dogs are really well, so I'm happy about that. They're getting their life back together and hopefully they get to live back in the house again.'
The family were discharged from hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
One of the fire crews were delayed getting to the scene because of a park bench that had been deliberately set on fire in Old Catton.
Jim Palmer, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service station manager, said: 'Thankfully in this instance it didn't make a difference, but it could have.'
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