Sunday, 15 March 2009

Emergency response

Late yesterday afternoon our street was blocked with emergency vehicles: rapid response motorbikes, ambulances, fire engines and police. The Virgin air ambulance crew also responded, landing their helicopter just down the road in Finsbury Park. The fire was three doors away in a recent attic conversion where a new neighbour had escaped by jumping down into the garden from a second floor window that belched black smoke, seriously injuring herself.

A Polish couple had owned the house for decades. When her husband died Stella continued there for another decade alone, finally selling up and returning to live near her sister in Poland just two or three years ago. The house was then bought by developers and converted, as are many of the houses in the street, into three flats. The top floor flat in these conversions usually consists only of the attic space with Velux windows in the roof, sometimes a loft extension overlooking the garden, and one back room on the mezzanine floor below. The only window our neighbour would have been able to jump from was this - twenty to thirty feet up at the level of my kitchen window. There are no fire escapes. The smoke blackened window is still open this morning but we have no news of the neighbour's condition yet.

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