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Norwich woman in fire drama

PUBLISHED: 15:40 16 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:11 02 July 2010

Mary Hamilton

A Norwich woman is believed to have suffered a terrifying ordeal when a wedding planning party ended in disaster.

A Norwich woman is believed to have suffered a terrifying ordeal when a wedding planning party ended in disaster.

Three women had to jump to safety from a second-floor flat and a fourth was rescued by firefighters after a candle in the bathroom set the flat ablaze.

Neighbours raised the alarm and went to help after hearing “blood-curdling” screams from the flat in Leeds, where the four university friends were meeting to help plan an upcoming wedding.

They dragged mattresses under the windows of the flat and helped three of the women to escape before fire crews arrived with ladders and rescued the fourth.

Bride-to-be Olivia Kerridge, 25, from Hull said she was very thankful for the fire service, the police and the ambulance response, and for the quick thinking of the neighbours.

“They were the nicest people in the world and they even put up with my stupid jokes which I make when under pressure,” she said. “We all really support any recommendations for bravery awards for the neighbours.”

Neighbour Charlene Dobson said: “I heard a blood-curdling scream coming from the flats and dialled 999 as soon as I realised what was happening.

“Some people were coming out with mattresses and piling them up on the ground.

“They were shouting, 'we are going to die'. Three of them managed to jump. One of them bounced quite a few feet in the air after landing on the mattresses and then one of the neighbours caught her.”

The women were believed to be from Norwich, Hull, London and Leeds. One was treated in hospital for serious back injuries and the others were treated for smoke inhalation.

Fire investigator Paul Armitage said the Leeds woman had lit candles throughout the flat to create a romantic atmosphere for the discussions of the upcoming wedding.

He said a tea light candle placed in the bath had burned through its metal case and set fire to the tub, and when one of the women opened the bathroom door the fire spread quickly, blocking their exit from the flat.

Neighbours placed mattresses underneath the flat's windows so the trapped women could jump to the ground, he said.

“They were shouting to the occupants and then one by one they were able to assist them in dropping from a height of about 32 foot (9.7m),” he said.

“Then they moved the mattresses to another location so the next person could jump.”

Mr Armitage added that he wanted to recommend the neighbours for a bravery award for their “live-saving actions”.

Do you know the Norwich woman involved in the fire? Contact Matt Sparkes on 01603 772439 or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk

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