Boarders flee late-night fire
MEN were forced to kick out windows and punch through doors to escape from a boarding house fire on Wednesday night.
The Fire Service says the blaze, which gutted the interior of the two-storey Kingsland building, may have been deliberately lit.
Resident Bill Mangu fled the fire by kicking out a small side window in his bedroom and dropping about two metres to the ground.
He says he was woken by a fire alarm sounding just after 11pm.
“I got up and heard crackling on the other side of the door. So I slammed the door and climbed out the window.
“There was all this smoke and heat. All the guys had to scarper out through the windows.”
One man who tried to escape through a back door became trapped when he couldn’t find the lock in the black smoke.
Another resident punched through a glass pane in the door to free him.
All 16 men escaped unhurt from the blaze, but most lost all their belongings.
Mr Mangu has lived in the New North Rd house for six months and was due to leave on Saturday.
He lost his television, stereo and all his clothes.
“The flames were really belting out,” he says.
“It was lucky all those guys got out, it just went up so quickly.”
He says a false alarm had sounded about 9.30pm on Wednesday.
“When the last one went off I knew something wasn’t quite right for it to go off twice in one night.”
Residents were all housed at a downtown backpackers for the night.
The Fire Service says four pump trucks and one aerial fire truck were sent to the blaze.
Fire safety officer Tony Culmer says a full investigation was being carried out yesterday. He says the fire started on the ground floor.
The building had working smoke alarms and fire alarms.
Suspicious blaze: The interior of the Kingsland Boarding House, which was gutted by fire on Wednesday night.
Lucky escape: Resident Bill Mangu kicked out a small side window to escape from the fire at the Kingsland boarding house.