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Man in flip-flops and shorts ran into burning Norwich building to try to save lives

PUBLISHED: 13:19 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:50 02 October 2018

Fire in Coslany Street, Norwich (Image: George Fayers)

Fire in Coslany Street, Norwich (Image: George Fayers)

Archant

A man has told how he ignored his own safety and ran into a burning building because he thought there were people trapped inside.

Michael Markou.Picture StaffMichael Markou.Picture Staff

Michael Markou first became aware of the house fire in Coslany Street on Saturday when he heard shouts from outside his home in Barnyard Close, which overlooks the property.

The 44-year-old said he heard a neighbour shouting and he looked out of his window to see the building ablaze.

He said: “The whole house was going up, all three floors were on fire and the windows were being blown out.”

Without a thought for his own safety and only wearing flip-flops and shorts Mr Markou, grabbed a towel to place over his face, a dry powder fire extinguisher from his own property and ran into the burning building.

Fire on Coslany Street in Norwich. Photo: Simon ParkinFire on Coslany Street in Norwich. Photo: Simon Parkin

He said: “I ran into the building through the back of the property shouting and screaming. It was very black, I couldn’t see anything so I went down low.

“I got to the first floor but I got overpowered by the smoke.

“The only thing that went through my mind was that there might be people in there. I couldn’t stand there and watch it burn.”

Mr Markou said that after being overwhelmed by smoke he then ran down the road to greet the fire brigade and pointed them in the direction of the fire.

Scene of fire in Coslany Street, Norwich. PIC: Peter Walsh.Scene of fire in Coslany Street, Norwich. PIC: Peter Walsh.

“I came back to see if there was any life in there and tried to console the lady next door,” he said.

Mr Markou, who has lived in Barnyard Close since July after being homeless for several months, said that after running into the building he suffered from smoke inhalation.

The fire service arrived at the scene at 2.20pm.

Crews from Carrow, Earlham, Sprowston and Hethersett used hose reel jets to extinguish the fire which caused extensive damage to all three storeys of the building.

The property was found to be empty.

Yesterday, neighbours told how the property was a known drugs den and labelled it a popular haunt for “crackheads”.

A fire service investigation has begun into what started the fire although no cause has yet been confirmed.

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