A pregnant woman said she and her four-year-old son have been left “traumatised” following a suspected arson attack at her block of flats in Redhill.
Katie Tanner claims she was woken up by “shouting” outside her third-floor flat in Bramley House, Brambletye Park Road, on Sunday, September 27.
The 30-year-old, who is seven months pregnant, said tenants were “screaming and banging on the door” at around 10.30pm after the fire broke out.
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“We looked outside and saw the smoke billowing out,” she said. “We had to get out; everyone was screaming and shouting trying to get everyone out.
“I managed to get my little boy out because I could still hold him, and I helped my neighbour’s child out as well – she has three children.
“The tenant whose flat was on fire was on the balcony screaming and shouting as she was trying to get out. The children outside were all terrified.”
Officers, alongside Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), were called to the building at around 10.45pm after receiving reports of a suspected arson attack.
A SFRS spokesperson said: “Three fire engines were sent, arriving at the scene at around 10.55pm. A flat fire had caused approximately five square metres of damage.
“The fire was dealt with and crews left the scene at around 11.50pm. Two females were treated for slight injuries.”
Miss Tanner said she and her son have been living in fear ever since the incident and claims none of the tenants are aware of an evacuation procedure.
However, Raven Housing Trust (RHT), which manages the property, said a notice clearly detailing what action to take in the event of a fire is displayed within the building.
Miss Tanner the current fire safety arrangements mean that her and other tenants feel “extremely unsafe”.
She said: “We were promised that the housing association would send out information in 24 hours, but they have not done that. We basically have no idea whether we are safe or not.
“Raven Housing Trust came on Friday (October 2) to let the forensics in. They were looking around for smoke damage.
“No one said: ‘Are you okay? Do you need any support?’. There is no duty of care in this block and we are terrified; we already know that the block is not fire safe.
“It’s a huge concern. If the fire had spread, we would’ve been trapped on the stairs. Everyone is terrified to the point where some people went away because they were so scared.”
She added: “We have to live in a burnt out building, which actually stinks. It’s all burnt out. I have got a seriously traumatised child.”
In 2018, a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) was conducted and it was recommended that checks should be carried in the building out to ensure all doors leading to individual flats had self closures. A RHT spokesperson confirmed that these checks were completed.
The spokesperson added: “The same FRA noted that the assessor’s visual assessment of the front doors leading to a number of the flats was inconclusive in confirming that the existing doors met the requirement of offering a notional 30 minutes fire resistance.
“The recommendation was that we should look to replace them with FD30S (incorporating cold smoke seals and intumescent strips) door sets – compliant to BS 476-22.
“This work has been planned with our contractor who has an annual programme to replace fire doors across our housing stock between now and the end of the financial year.”
Surrey Police confirmed on Monday (October 5) that a 38-year-old man from Greenwich has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. He has been remanded to prison on a separate and unrelated offence.
Detective Constable Michael Barker said: “We would like to reassure local residents that we believe this was an isolated incident. We are currently following up a number of lines of enquiry to identify the person responsible.
“We would like to hear from anyone who may have further information or anyone who lives in the area who may have any doorbell CCTV.”
The investigation remains ongoing.
Statement from Raven Housing Trust
Jo Hills, director of assets and services, said: “We share the concerns of our residents who were very understandably worried about safety following the recent fire that occurred in a flat within Bramley House overnight on Sunday, September 27.
“We are liaising with the police to understand the cause of the fire and what implications there may be, if any, for any additional fire risk at the property.
“Following the incident, our first priority was to check that all residents in the block were safe and able to remain in their home. Once this was established we started the work necessary to arrange for the remedial work to take place to deal with the smoke damage caused.
“This work will be undertaken as part of an insurance claim that has already been agreed by the loss adjuster, contractors are on site and we anticipate that the work will be completed within at least five weeks.
“In response to the incident, colleagues have visited Bramley House in person and spoken to each resident either in person or over the phone, in some cases as many as three times – this includes speaking to Miss Tanner.”
Ms Hills added: “We understand that residents have also asked about the possibility of fitting a door entry system for additional security following the fire.
“Whilst we understand from the police that this was an isolated incident that therefore presents no greater risk at the building, we understand residents concerns and will undertake a review of whether a door entry system will be required.”
Anyone with any information should contact police, quoting crime reference number PR/45200102972 via its webchat, online reporting tool, or by calling 101.
Anyone who does not wish to leave their name should call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.