THE MAN rescued from the balcony of a burning building said he would have had to jump had firefighters not saved him.

Alex Mutulescu was plucked from the outside of his flat on Jewry Street in Winchester after a fire started in a neighbouring home, filling the building with smoke.

Mr Mutulescu, 24, was awoken by a smoke alarm and ran to the communal landing where he found smoke pouring from the doorway of the neighbouring flat, yesterday afternoon.

Unable to escape down the building's staircase, his only option was to clamber on to the balcony of his home and call 999.

He said: "There was just so much smoke coming out on to the stairwell, I had no choice but to run back into my flat, shut the door and climb outside.

"My only other option was to jump from the balcony but it was too high so I called the emergency services.

"The fire engines were here so quickly. In a couple of minutes they were outside my flat and had put up a ladder to help me."They helped bring me down and away from the fire. I am so grateful for their actions and want to send my thanks to the crews who got there so quickly and saved my life."

Basingstoke Gazette: Alex Mutulescu

Alex, who works in a local takeaway, was treated for minor smoke inhalation but was otherwise unharmed.

There was no-one in the flat in which the fire started.

Fire investigation teams are todayat the property working to try and establish what caused the blaze, which is not being treated as suspicious.

Station Manager Alex Rhodes, officer in charge of the incident, said the crews' work not only saved the resident's life but also the historic listed buildings on Jewry Street.

He said: "The actions of the crews in making it to the location quickly and reaching the man on the balcony helped save his life.

"The crews who then went inside the building to fight the fire performed brilliantly to stop it spreading to the neighbouring terraced properties.

"We'd also like to thank our colleagues in the police and ambulance services for their assistance in tackling this incident."