‘Terrified’ tenants in fire escape call

Petition handed to East Devon District Council by Whitebridges residents.

‘Terrified’ tenants at a Honiton block of flats have handed East Devon District Council a petition - calling for fire escapes.

They say they are too afraid to go to sleep at night after a fire left one woman trapped in her top floor flat in Whitebridges.

Judith Lees, 52, who has lived in her flat for 11 years, says: “I was told it was ‘too dangerous’ to get me out.”

The fire started in a middle floor flat on September 24, but tenants claim one bedroom flats on top floors do not have fire escapes.

Together with neighbour Jean Boulton, 53, Judith has collected signatures from 25 tenants on the estate and is calling for urgent action.

“I am terrified. I can’t sleep at night,” Judith told the Midweek Herald.

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Jean, who has lived in her top floor flat for 23 years, said: “We are asking for fire escapes out the back, near our bedrooms.

“We are really worried that another fire may break out.

“We have been assured our petition is being taken seriously, but we have had no acknowledgement in writing.”

During a previous fire at the flats, residents say a pregnant woman in a top floor flat was forced to scramble out of the building via scaffolding.

“We need the council to say yes or no to our request,” said Jean.

A spokesman for East Devon District Council told the Midweek Herald: “Our housing team is aware of the concerns held by residents of these flats.

“We have been to see them and have carried out a site visit.

“We will commission our own survey of the building, but we are currently awaiting the results of a Fire Service investigation into the September 24 fire before we decide what action, if any, needs to be taken.”