A shocked father has described how his wife and son jumped for their lives from the first floor of their blazing home.
Taxi driver Liyaqat Ravjani thought his entire family had perished when he arrived home from work at 4am on Wednesday to find his house engulfed in flames.
“I knew they’d be in bed but the fire was so strong I couldn’t get in to rescue them. I really thought they were dead,” he told the Citizen.
But round the back of the Coffee Hall house a drama that involved both sets of neighbours was unfolding at that very moment.
Son Sajjad, 20, woke up to the smell of the staircase burning and realised he, his mum Zainab and sister Siddiqua were trapped upstairs.
He broke a window, threw a mattress out and jumped, urging the rest of his family to do the same.
While neighbours woke to screams for help, Mrs Ravjani jumped, but fell awkwardly, shattering her ankle and landing in a heap on the floor.
Said neighbour Miral Mitrache: “I heard someone shouting: ‘Call an ambulance, my mother is hurt.’ The man had jumped without his phone and couldn’t dial 999.”
He and another neighbour, Adeto Kumbo, obliged, then watched in horror as another face appeared at the bedroom window.
Daughter Siddiqua, 25, froze in terror as her brother tried to persuade her to jump from the smoke-filled room.
“She was screaming for her mum, who was lying on the ground covered in blankets. Her brother was saying: ‘Jump – you must jump’. It was horrible,” said Miral, whose own house was also filling with smoke.
Firefighters arrived in the nick of time and rescued Siddiqua with a ladder. Paramedics treated her for smoke inhalation.
Her father said: “She is fine now and we are very grateful to the firefighters for rescuing her. My wife had to have an operation to repair her broken ankle but she is also fine.
“I am a lucky man. I thought I had lost my family but they all survived.”
The drama in the Daniels Welch home, believed to have started due to an electrical fault, has now sparked one of the city’s biggest ever warnings about smoke alarms.
A Bucks Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We’re relieved this family got out of the house and wish them a speedy recovery.
“If they had fitted a smoke alarm, the fire would have been detected much sooner and their lives would not have been at risk. We cannot urge people strongly enough to ensure they have smoke alarms.”
Alarms cost less than £10. They can be fitted free by calling the Bucks Fire Service fire prevention department on 01296 744477 or emailing email@example.com.