PRAISE has been heaped on a good Samaritan who “saved the life of a man” as a fire tore through a number of flats in Popley.

Seven people had to be temporarily rehoused as a result of the blaze in Cayman Close, Popley on Saturday, 6 January.

All the residents escaped unhurt but a cat in the first-floor flat where the fire started died.

Around 20 firefighters were called to the scene at 8pm on Saturday and battled to prevent the flames, which had spread to the roof, from significantly damaging other flats.

As the owners were evacuated, neighbours praised the efforts of a good Samaritan who alerted them to the fire.

Madeline Croft, 68, who lives in the house next to the flats told The Gazette the woman had saved her husband’s life.

She said: “My husband is bedridden and I heard this knocked at the door saying that the flats next door were on fire.

“My concern was getting my husband out, and the community were fantastic, there were people who I don’t even know helping to get him out.

“I have never seen something go up so quickly, we could hear the explosions coming from upstairs it was terrifying.

“If it wasn’t for that lady and the amazing work of the fire service we could be dead.”

Other neighbours came out to support the flat owners by offering blankets, hot drinks and food.

Susan Chapman, 52, who lives in one of the ground floor flats beneath the home where the fire began said she was in shock when she saw the smoke.

She said: “One of the neighbours round the back came running round knocking on all our doors saying there was a fire.

“I didn’t realise what was happening, but when I saw the smoke my heart just went and I felt really sick.”

She added: “One of the neighbours was kind enough to take me in as it was so cold, but others were giving out blankets and giving tea and coffee.”

The flat the fire started in was destroyed but the owners of the home were out at the time.

Other flats suffered water and smoke damage but all of the block’s residents had to be rehoused due to a loss of power to the block.

Police and fire services are investigating the cause of the fire.

Another resident who did not wish to be named said: “I looked out of my bedroom window and I just saw the smoke.

“It wasn’t until I saw all the fire engines coming around the corner that I realised that something serious was going on.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, 7 January, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council deputy leader Terri Reid said: “Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service quickly tackled the fire last night and no one was injured, butMy heart goes out to the person who owned the flat involved, especially as they lost their pet.”

“Our officers were out at the scene of the fire last night and have been working closely with Vivid, the housing association that owns the buildingto ensure that the people affected by the fire had somewhere to stay.

“We will continue to work with them to offer support to the residents involved.”