CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Man saved by neighbour moments before fireball explosion in Primrose Hill

Neighbours say they thought a bomb had gone off after hearing huge bang

08 June, 2017 — By William McLennan

A MAN who was lying unresponsive next to a fire in a garden shed was rescued by his Primrose Hill neighbour moments before a gas canister exploded into a ball of flames.

Tarquin Kyle leapt into action when he saw the figure of a man lying in a garden in Oppidans Road next to flames that were rapidly spreading through bushes. Mr Kyle told the New Journal: “I saw two plumes of smoke rise up out of the bushes and then I saw a figure lying outside the garden shed which was catching alight. I ran down through my house onto my balcony, jumped from the balcony into their garden and grabbed him. The shed then exploded because there must have been a gas canister in one of the back gardens.”

He said that a “fire ball” erupted 30 metres into the sky and rattled the windows of his home when the gas canisters exploded. Mr Kyle said: “If he’d been left where he was he would have been very badly burnt and he didn’t look like he was planning on moving. It was a fairly lively incident. ”

Flames rip through a back garden in Primrose  Hill

The 54-year-old man, who the New Journal has agreed not to name, was burnt by the flames and remains in hospital. His family said that he was smoking in the garden and fell asleep on a bench. More than 30 fire­fighters were called to tackle the blaze, which destroyed most of the ground floor of a house in Meadowbank.

A teenage boy was able to escape the fire-damaged house unhurt before the fire brigade arrived. Mr Kyle, a professional photographer, said: “The Meadowbank house is really badly damaged, their conservatory is a wreck. It’s not superficial damage, we are talking about many thousands of pounds and if it had been left unattended and somebody called the fire brigade a little later, I think the other two houses might have been very badly damaged too.”

Ash Mehta, a neighbour of the damaged home, said: “There was smoke coming out at the back and I thought somebody had started a BBQ. I went over to the fence to look and there was a little fire, but then suddenly it just came alight.” He said he tried in vein to douse the flames before the fire brigade arrived.

“I tried to put some water on with my hose pipe, but it was ferocious within seconds,” he said. “It was unbelievable the speed with which it progressed. It was frightening. I think a couple of BBQ gas cylinders went off and fuelled it. It was quite lucky nobody was more seriously hurt.”

The aftermath of the blaze

Another neighbour, Peter Gilbert, described the moment he felt the fireball explode. “I was just in the kitchen, there was a huge bang and I thought a bomb had gone off,” he said.

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said that the cause of the fire had been recorded as “deliberate”. In a statement, the brigade said: “Most of the ground floor of the terraced house on Meadowbank Road was damaged by fire, as well as some decking which was completely damaged in the blaze. An outbuilding of a terraced house on Oppidans Road, to the rear of Meadowbank, was also gutted by the fire. “One man was taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service.”

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