20 March 2012
Volunteers were quick to respond yesterday after a fatal explosion and fire in a block of flats left more than 50 people stranded outside their homes during a chilly evening.
A five-strong team from the fire and emergency support service (FESS) rushed to the building in Guildford, Surrey in the early evening. The explosion had claimed the life of one woman and left a man with life-threatening injuries.
Volunteer Malcolm Jefferies recalled: “Around 50 people had gathered in an adjoining car park, in various states of dress. Some had left their homes with very little clothing on, and one couple didn’t even have their shoes.”
Blankets and drinks
The team acted quickly, handing out extra clothing and blankets to keep everyone warm, as well as tea and coffee.
Malcolm said: “There were children, babies – and even a dog – to look after, and some people were concerned about pets that they’d left in their flats. Obviously, we gave them comfort and a bit of TLC.
“We also worked constantly with the emergency services and acted as a conduit between them and the residents, providing information and updates.”
FESS volunteer Renee Boyce said: “People were getting very cold, very quickly, so our immediate priority was supplying them with hot drinks and blankets.
“But we were also on hand to support those who’d been upset by the incident, and a few of the older people came and sat in our FESS vehicle to keep warm. Looking back, I think we played a valuable role.”
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