Father, 26, throws daughters from the top floor of a burning blockMay 11, 2023
Father, 26, throws daughters, 7, and ,4, from the top floor of a burning block of flats as 60 firefighters battle with suspected arson attack as homes were left inhabitable
- Around 60 firefighters battled the fire to try and save 23 families in the building
- The blaze is being treated as a suspected arson attack but the motive is unknown
- READ MORE: Schoolgirl, 15, ‘murdered her newborn baby boy’
A desperate father begged his neighbours to catch his two young daughters as he dropped them nearly 30 feet from a top-floor window of a blazing block of flats.
Jay Payne, 26, was asleep at home in a three-storey block of flats in Somerset Court, Gosport, Hants with his wife and two daughters, aged seven and four.
As flames ripped through the family’s flat yesterday at 12.30am,Mr Payne had no choice but to risk throwing his children out of a window and into the arms of his brave neighbours.
He and his wife then made the jump together in the hope to survive the ‘killer’ blaze which left many homes in ashes.
Around 60 firefights battled with the inferno, which is being treated as an arson attack, as around 23 families tried to escape the burning building.
Jay Payne, 26, was asleep at home in a three-storey block of flats in Somerset Court, Gosport, Hants, at 12.30am, with his wife and two daughters, aged seven and four when a blaze ripped through their home yesterday
Around 60 firefighters battled the fire to try and save 23 families in the building
The blaze is being treated as a suspected arson attack but the motive is unknown
Mr Payne said ‘We’d woken up to the fire alarm, I opened the door and flames and smoke came through.
‘The whole place went black. We were screaming at the top of our lungs for someone to help us.
‘I chucked a mattress out the window and threw my kids out and then my wife and myself jumped.
‘It was very traumatising…my four-year-old daughter has burns up her arms from her fingertips to her shoulders.
‘The whole flat has gone – we’ve got nothing left.’
Heroic neighbours joined one another to save their loved ones and other families as they watched more than 10 fire engines put out the fire.
Shocked neighbour James Matthews said: ‘He was pleading with anybody, please somebody please help me, somebody please catch my children, somebody please help us and it was awful somebody fearing for their life.
‘He dropped the first girl and I’ve caught her under her armpits pretty straight sort of catch and then he’s dropped the second girl afterwards and I believe there was another neighbour we sort of broke her fall together.’
Another resident, Jodie Mills, said: ‘Mattresses were being flung out on to the ground so that the children could land on it.
‘People were breaking their falls, people got burnt. Lots and lots of smoke.’
Four people, four dogs and three cats were rescued from the blaze – being treated by detectives as an arson attack which could have seen families die.
The fire service said everyone was miraculously accounted for following the incident which is now being treated as a murderous and deliberate attack, though the motive isn’t clear.
Families from 23 flats were saved and four people were taken to hospital with burns, and smoke inhalation but have now been discharged.
Four dogs and three cats were also rescued and at least six out of the 23 flats were left uninhabitable.
Station Manager for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, Nev Lewendon, said: ‘People were screaming, panic had ensued throughout some of those flats worried about evacuation.
‘So the crews turned up and rapidly put up ladders to help with these people who needed evacuating.
‘In some cases people were helped down ladders, others were actually helped out windows as well.
‘It was a fierce fire initially through that middle block, going up through the centre, which is where that stairwell is.
‘I’m really proud of the teams that were here on site initially and the ones that have come afterwards to just get involved and trying to get this fire extinguished.’
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said: ‘The fire is currently being treated as suspicious, and police remain on scene making enquiries with the fire service.’
The fire service said relief crews and the British Red Cross remained on the scene.
Police and fire investigations at the flats are expected to continue through today.
Heritage Way, the road leading to the flats, remains closed.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact police on 101, quoting 44230182829.
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