Harrow Court: Night of terror

HARROW Court residents have been talking about the night fire ripped through their building. The fire began in flat 85 after a tea light was left burning while Ms Close and her boyfriend Nicholas Savage slept. Jean Cuff and Victoria Holt lived in the flat

HARROW Court residents have been talking about the night fire ripped through their building.

The fire began in flat 85 after a tea light was left burning while Ms Close and her boyfriend Nicholas Savage slept.

Jean Cuff and Victoria Holt lived in the flat above, number 91.

Ms Cuff was in her bedroom at the time of the fire, and said she heard strange noises.

She told an inquest into the deaths: "At first I could hear a crackling noise and I thought it was my tape player so I turned it off."

But the noise did not stop. Ms Cuff then went to the window of her bedroom, where she could see a glow coming from the flat below.

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She said: "I thought: 'that better not be what I think it is'."

Her flatmate was in the living room when she heard different noises, she said.

"It was really weird. The only way I can describe it is it was like someone scrabbling at the walls."

Ms Holt told the inquest she also heard a male voice shouting.

As Ms Cuff had realised it was a fire she went into the living room to get her flatmate.

She told the inquest: "I said 'there's a fire, we need to go now'."

The pair made their way down the stairs to escape the building.

On the way down, they met James Brown, who lived at 95 Harrow Court.

He had seen smoke billowing out of a window of the block of flats, and dialled 999.

Ms Cuff set off the fire alarm and Mr Brown tried to open the door to number 85, but the two women stopped him, fearing there could be a flashback.

The three residents then went down to the ground floor, the women by the stairs and Mr Brown in the lift. Ms Cuff and Ms Holt were evacuated to the car park. Ms Holt recalled: "First of all the living room windows of flat 85 melted and then our living room windows melted," she said.

Another Harrow Court resident, Paul Wright, lived opposite number 85 in 84. He had gone to bed the night before the fire and awoke at around 3am to find his room filled with smoke.

He also heard someone shouting and went outside to discover a man he knew to be a friend of Mr Savage from flat 85 kicking the door and calling Mr Savage's name.

It was then Mr Wright realised flat 85 was on fire.

"I looked up and saw orange flames in the window above the door. Smoke was coming from the door," he said.

Mr Wright then saw two firefighters heading up the stairs from floor 13 to floor 15.

When another firefighter passed, he called out to tell her the fire was in fact on floor 14, and the firefighters came back. Mr Wright was later taken to hospital where he was kept in overnight.