A Crawley blaze which brought the town centre to a standstill was started deliberately.
@WestSussexFire tweeted today: “Update on #Crawley fire yesterday was deliberate ignition”.
A woman, who was suffering from smoke inhalation, was helped off a balcony after four fire crews were called to smoke coming from Cross Keys at 12.43pm yesterday (Wednesday June 22).
A fire service spokesman said she was given oxygen and firefighters in breathing gear used two hose reels to tackle the ‘severe fire’ in a third floor flat.
She was taken to East Surrey Hospital for further checks, said South East Coast Ambulance Service.
Cllr Carlos Castro (Lab, Tilgate) said he could barely breathe as the ‘very thick smoke’ spread as far as the Broadway.
He said more than 100 people were at the scene after four fire engines, ambulances, and police closed off the area.
“It was really really thick smoke - I couldn’t even breathe it.
“There’s a massive blockade of traffic by the roundabout.
“Hundred people or more are looking at what’s going on.
“It’s a pretty scary thing that it’s happening in the middle of the town where you have all these people shopping - especially at the bus stop (near the scene in The Broadway) - poor people.”
A police spokesman said: “Police closed Cross Keys, Crawley, between the B2219 High Street and The Broadway while firefighters dealt with a blaze that broke out in a block of flats at around 12.45pm. The fire was reported to be out at 1.17pm. One woman was being treated for the effects of smoke inhalation. No evacuation of neighbouring properties was necessary.”
The entire flat was damaged - 80 per cent by fire, the rest by smoke, a West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said.
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