Eight people including two children were rescued by fire crews following a fire in a block of flats in Broadfield.
The fire broke out in a communal stairwell of the flats on Broadfield Place causing thick smoke and leaving several people trapped.
Five people were rescued from one first-floor window via a ladder while another three were led to safety through the stairwell.
Several flat doors were smashed open by firefighters as they checked if occupants were inside.
A handful of people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation with the evacuated residents outside for around two hours before being allowed to go back inside.
The father of a baby described the scary experience of being trapped inside his second-floor flat as the fire was brought under control.
Rajiv Toolaseeram said: “It was very worrying. We opened the front door and there was thick smoke in the staircase. It was upsetting because we didn’t know what to do with the baby. We were told to stay inside but it’s scary when you don’t what is happening, especially when the fire is just downstairs.”
A woman whose first-floor flat door was right by the fire said the source appeared be by a smoldering bag of rubbish on the stairwell which she tried to put out with water.
She said: “It was very smoky. They say that smoke kills and I believe it now. It really gets you in the throat. But I’m fine now.”
Two separate 999 calls were made from people stuck in their flats. The South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) specialist hazard response team attended alongside a regular ambulance and ambulance car.
A SECAmb spokesman said: “No one needed hospital treatment but we tended to a handful of people at the scene for smoke inhalation.”
An investigation into the cause of the fire has now begun.