'I was about to microwave some food when my bedroom burst into flames'

Screenshot from a video filmed by a resident from the road at side of first floor flat in block, with flames visible with window almost blown out
-Credit: (Image: Modibo Traore)

The resident of a flat in St Ann's which burst into flames and led to the block being evacuated has described the moment he opened the door of his bedroom to find it on fire. FedEx warehouse worker Eryk Czerewaty, 22, had been in the kitchen of the St Matthias Road property when the alarm went off at around 3.30am today (Thursday, June 20).

The blaze led to nearby residents fleeing their homes in the middle of the night and a large emergency service response. The block of flats remained cordoned off during the rest of the day, with those living there having been outside for most of the night and the morning.

Eryk told Nottinghamshire Live: "I always stay up late as I struggle to sleep. I was in the kitchen with the door closed. I was about to make some food - chicken and rice. I was just going to put it in the microwave. But then, I started smelling burnt stuff.

"Then the fire alarm turns on. I rushed to my room. I had a candle on my bedside table. I don’t know if it broke but it fell and something must have caused it to set on fire. I didn’t really see it because I was just distracted by the fire.

"I tried to put it out by smashing it with a pillow. It was too much though and I couldn’t really do anything. So I got out, locked the doors and knocked on everyone else’s doors to make sure everyone got out."

Eryk Czerewaty outside his family's flat, with his burns bandaged, below the window of his family's first-floor flat which went up in flames
Eryk Czerewaty outside his family's flat, with his burns bandaged, below the window of his family's first-floor flat which went up in flames -Credit:Nottingham Post

Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live having just returned from hospital, Eryk explained that he lives in the flat with his father and sister, but both were not in at the time of the fire. He was with the family dog and on the phone to a friend when the fire broke out.

He explained: "I didn’t actually ring 999. The friend who I was on the phone to did. I was just making sure everyone was out of the building. That was the main thing.

"I’m alright. My hand and forearm is all burnt though. After I got outside, I waited by the wall for about 40 minutes with no water to put on it or anything. Then the paramedics came and the firemen. They put water on my hand to cool it down because it was so hot and then took me to hospital. It was a little bit painful but not too bad. Out of 10 I’d say a four. I’ve had worse.

"I went to the hospital at about 4am and stayed there til about 7am. At 8 o'clock they checked my hand and wrapped it up. I got an Uber back here and I’m waiting now to get my hand checked out by a specialist. But I'll be fine. As long as everyone else is OK."

When Nottinghamshire Live visited the scene on Thursday, residents were still waiting outside while fire investigators checked the building for structural damage. One neighbour said she had been told at around 12.30pm that the building was OK and that they should be able to return to their properties soon.

But Eryk's family's flat is uninhabitable. He said he had been told that he'd be able to stay with his family at a hotel near Nottingham station, but not for how long.

Charles Ellis, Executive Director of Asset Management at PA Housing, which manages the block of flats, said: “Members of our team have been on site since early today, supporting our residents that were affected by this morning’s fire. We have remained there throughout today and are working closely with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“We have helped arrange alternative local accommodation for those six households that need it and will work to assess the damage and get people back into their homes as soon as possible.

“Earlier today, we also arranged access to a nearby PA Housing property so people could get a drink, some food and a rest. We have also taken people to asupermarket to get some essentials where needed.”