The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

Sliema fire: 'I was expecting thick smoke but it felt like I was inhaling something poisonous'

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 08:54 Last update: about 2 months ago

As they quickly ran down the staircase of their apartment block, Hannah Scicluna felt scared when she realised just how thick the fire’s smoke truly was.

Hannah, along with her family, were just some of the residents who were evacuated Sunday night from their apartment block whilst CPD fire-fighters were extinguishing a fire that broke out that evening.

The fire was reported at around 9:30pm in Bisazza Street, Sliema. There were two fires, one which was in a shop below an apartment block and another in the common area of an apartment block. It has been reported that the cause of the fire was due to problems with a main electricity supply.

“I was expecting a thick smell of smoke but I felt like I was inhaling something poisonous. With every breath I honestly felt like I didn’t want to take another one,” she said.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, Hannah explained what exactly happened yesterday evening as the fire broke out in their apartment block. She is just one resident of many who had to quickly exit the building.

“At around half nine the electricity cut in our apartment, and after my mother checked that it wasn’t from the circuit breaker, she went downstairs to check the mains.” Not long after, her mother rushed back up to the apartment breathless and screaming that there was a fire and that they had to leave right away.

“As soon as she told us there was a fire, I immediately called 112 and remained on the phone with them the whole time as we ran downstairs.”

As they closed the bedroom windows and grabbed their dogs, they began to run downstairs, screaming and banging on the neighbours’ doors. Hannah explained that their apartment is on the sixth floor of a building which all together has ten floors in all.

“We hoped that by screaming and shouting, the residents above our floor would hear us.”

After her family were out of the building, some neighbours came out a few minutes after them; one of them falling to the floor coughing and another flushed with confusion about what was happening.

“Civil Protection Department officials were on the scene within 10 minutes, and the ambulance checked us all for carbon monoxide. Some of us were fine, whilst others had elevated levels and needed oxygen.”

The feeling amongst the residents was one of fear and shock. “I can’t begin to describe the shock I’m still feeling. I was crying once we were out and very worried.”

No resident was injured and currently nobody is residing in the apartment block. “We won’t be home for a few days, as currently there is no electricity and barely any running water. It will also take some time to fix the main electrical supply, as it is completely torched.” She said that currently Enemalta are checking the entrance of the flat, cleaning and fixing the main electrical supply.

She thanked the members of the Civil Protection Department for their work, who were on the scene within minutes. She hopes speaking up about what happened will make people take more precautions within their apartment buildings. “Apartment owners must be more aware that this could happen to them.”

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