Mother-of-three loses everything in devastating flat fire
- Credit: Archant
A mother screamed for help as a devastating fire engulfed her flat with her three children inside, destroying her home and leaving her family with nothing but the clothes they were standing in.
Anna Jakusova was getting ready to go to a party when she saw flames out of her window in St Edmundsbury Road, North Lynn, with the fire first taking hold in a plastic porch area at around 3.10pm on Saturday (June 23).
Running to the back door with her three children aged 14, seven and five, she shouted for help and gathered up the family's eight dogs, using shopping bags to carry six puppies to safety.
Neighbours including Emma Webber and Paul Sharpin then rushed to the 31-year-old's aid, while a cleaner from Freebridge Community Housing - which maintains many of the properties in the block of flats - knocked on the door of other properties to warn them to get out.
After helping Mrs Jakusova lift her children and pets over the back fence to safety, Mr Sharpin made an attempt to get into the back of the flat after fearing some puppies may be trapped inside.
He was beaten back by the flames, suffering burns to his arm - but thankfully all the puppies were safe.
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Mrs Jakusova and her neighbours then helplessly watched in horror on the road outside as the blaze rapidly grew from a seemingly small fire to a huge inferno that gutted at least one flat, a car and left several others with severe smoke damage.
Thick black plumes of smoke were even visible as far away as West Lynn as five fire crews from stations including King's Lynn, Sandringham and Outwell battled the flames.
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Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service also advised people to avoid the area and keep their windows closed, while Mrs Jakusova - who was treated for shock at the scene - was reduced to standing outside with no money or possessions, other than the clothes she was wearing at the time.
Ms Webber, 36, who lives in the flat next to Mrs Jakusova's and whose property is also likely to have suffered severe smoke damage, said: 'I was sitting in my back garden when I heard someone say: 'Get out, get out, fire.'
'I went straight to the back and there was Anna screaming: 'Help me, help me.'
'It was horrible. It was the worst day of my life. I thought we were going to lose everything. My legs felt like jelly and I thought I was going to collapse.'
Mr Sharpin, who is Ms Webber's cousin, said: 'I was round the corner with friends when someone screamed that my cousin's place was on fire.
'When I first turned up, it was just a small fire in the porch. I just did what I thought I should to help.'
Racing to the back of the property, the 38-year-old said: 'I was handing the puppies over the fence, as well as the children.
'Because of the commotion, I though there were two puppies in the house. I tried to open the back door but fire just flew out.'
Darren Blowers, of Turbus Road, North Lynn, was visiting friends nearby when the fire broke out.
The 37-year-old said: 'There was a lot of black smoke being kicked out. It got big pretty quick. I was surprised at how big it got and the sheer pace at which it spread. The plastic porch certainly didn't help that.
'If the fire brigade hadn't got here when they did, next door would've been up in flames as well. They did a good job.
'If it was me, I'd be devastated. It looks like they've lost pretty much everything in there. That's not something you'd wish on anyone - no-one deserves that.'
Neighbours gathered on the road outside as the clean-up operation continued during the evening.
Joanna Braganca had been picking up her mother Isabel, 45, father and sister from Stansted Airport when she got a call from Freebridge Community Housing to tell them what had happened.
The family's seven-year-old Volkswagen Passat parked nearby was also destroyed in the blaze, while they were forced to wait outside by the fire service cordon to see the extent of the interior damage.
Like other families, she was offered Travelodge accommodation by Freebridge overnight.
Of the fire, she said: 'It makes me feel angry and upset. All I want to do is cry.'