Update: St Albans woman injured in house fire
PUBLISHED: 17:11 21 May 2014
An eyewitness to an overnight blaze in inner St Albans has described the frightening moments when it was feared that a fire would rip through adjoining terraced houses.
A woman understood to be in her 60s was taken to hospital for treatment after a fire broke out on the first floor of her mid-terraced home in Upper Culver Road at about midnight last night.
She received minor burns to her hands and suffered smoke inhalation.
Today (Wednesday) caring neighbours voiced concerns about how the woman would react upon returning from hospital to her gutted home.
A huge pile of items which had been stashed inside her home, believed to be without power or gas, were left piled on her front garden, and across the footpath.
Books, sheets of music, pots and instruments in the piles had been severely charred in the blaze.
When the Herts Advertiser visited the street at about midday a loader was transferring the piles into a waiting rubbish truck.
Five fire engines attended the blaze which broke out yesterday at 11.50pm.
But firefighters had to battle to get to the seat of the fire itself, as there were too many items blocking their passageway.
Crew commander Simon Lincoln from St Albans Fire Station said that firefighters got through 24 sets of breathing apparatus, and had to remove items from the house to tackle the blaze.
Eyewitness Dr Jan Bamford said the woman who lived in the house was injured after trying to extinguish the fire herself.
Dr Bamford added: “She was very traumatised, and very worried about her books.
“She is an intellectual, and we are all very worried as everything in her home means something to her.”
Dr Bamford said she saw smoke pouring from the roof of the woman’s home and drifting through neighbouring roofs.
She added: “They may have to get their roofs redone because of smoke damage. It was very worrying seeing the flames, as it looked like other houses would catch fire.
“There was smoke billowing from her first floor window and there were flames by the chimney. It looked like the whole place was going to catch alight.”
The woman who lives in the house is understood to have no gas or power, and uses candles.
She is described as a religious person, a Russian Orthodox, who sings in church.
Dr Bamford said when she saw her neighbour outside her home following the fire, “she was in shock and devastated. I’m waiting to make sure she is OK.”
Her brother, Dr Nicholas Bamford, was trying to salvage a few of their neighbour’s precious items from the street before they could be dumped into the rubbish truck, including musical instruments and slides.
Cmdr Lincoln said the cause of the blaze is not known, but fire investigation officers have visited the house to establish how it started.