Firefighters flee through window as flames fill house stairwell

A flame filled stairway gave three London firefighters anxious moments Thursday when they were ventilating smoke from the second floor of a Grey Street house.

Forced back by the sudden flash in the stairwell, acting Captain Paul McPherson and firefighters Jim Holmes and Dave Morden retreated to a rear window where they managed to escape down a lean-to roof.

None of the three was hurt, said Acting Deputy Chief Jim Fitzgerald.

Damage to the charred two storey brick house at 784 Little Grey Street and a scorched wall to the house next door was estimated at $60,000.  No one was at home when the fire was reported about 11 a.m.  The owner was identified as L.R. MacLean.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation by Inspector Ron Preszcator, but Fitzgerald said it appeared the fire started in the basement.  Flames spread inside the walls to the upper storey when the main floor of the structure collapsed.

The fire was brought under control within an hour by firefighters from  the central station.