Working smoke alarms saved the lives of residents who were evacuated after a fire at an Eastbourne block of flats on Saturday night.
Firefighters were called to a flat in Leslie Street at 10.15pm after one of the residents in the block called 999.
Eastbourne and Pevensey crews attended the incident and people in 14 flats had to be evacuated.
Three people were rescued and six people, along with two dogs, were led to safety.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has not yet confirmed the cause of the fire but neighbours said on social media that they believed it was caused by a lighted cigarette.
The fire service did say however that working smoke alarms in the building saved lives on the night.
A spokesperson said East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service mobilised three appliances to the scene after smoke was spotted in a stairwell.
“Everyone was accounted for and one person was taken to hospital,” said the spokesperson.
“Crews wearing breathing apparatus tackled the accidental fire using two hose reel jets and a positive pressure ventilation fan was used to clear smoke from the building.”
Eastbourne’s crew manager Paul Markwick said, “I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of knowing your escape plan and what to do, should a fire occur.
“Everyone should take time to consider their means of escape, as well as ensuring they have a working smoke alarm.
“As a fire service we do offer home safety visits as properties vary greatly in layout, size and if you have any concerns at all about fire safety and how to stay safe please do not hesitate to contact us and we will organise a visit. We can offer tailored advice for your property and personal circumstances.”
Interim chief fire officer Dawn Whittaker praised crews and control operators for life-saving action which resulted in a successful rescue.
She said, “We would like to thank the member of the public who made the emergency call and for their vigilance in reporting the fire.
“We also want to remind people that they are at least four times as likely to die in a fire at home if they haven’t got a working smoke alarm.
“A smoke alarm is the easiest way to alert you to the danger of fire, giving you time to escape. They are cheap, easy to get hold of and easy to fit.”
Photo by Dan Jessup.