Tower Fire Victim On 999 Call 'For An Hour'

Gamal Fahnbulleh, Sky News Reporter
Tower Fire Victim On 999 Call 'For An Hour'

A victim of a fire that killed six people in a block of flats in London was on the phone to the fire brigade for an hour before she lost consciousness, an inquest has heard.

Catherine Hickman was trapped on the 11th floor of Lakanal House in Camberwell after the blaze started in July 2009.

The inquest heard that a faulty TV in a bedroom of flat 65 on the 9th floor was the cause.

The inquest heard how Ms Hickman, 31, was told by the operator to place something at the bottom of the door to stop smoke from coming in.

The inquest heard that she had become overwhelmed by the smoke and flames that had engulfed the building. She had attempted to move to the balcony but was forced back inside.

She said to the operator: "It's orange, it's orange everywhere. I can't open a window."

Ms Hickman then said she could not breathe very well and was getting hot. A series of 999 calls was also made to the emergency services by residents in the building.

Five other people died in the fire. They were Dayana Francisquini, 26, and her children, six-year-old Thais, and Fillipe, three.

Helen Udoaka, 34 and her three-week-old daughter, Michelle, were also killed.

It later emerged Southwark Council knew the building posed a fire risk but did not act and had not carried out a fire risk assessment. However, it has been decided there is no realistic prospect of prosecution.

The Crown Prosecution Service believed there was insufficient evidence and it was unlikely that a conviction for an offence of manslaughter by gross negligence or corporate manslaughter against any company or the London Borough of Southwark could take place.

Assistant Deputy Coroner Frances Kirkham told the jury that "some evidence would be upsetting".

But she urged them to listen to all of it in order to be able to reach a conclusion on each death.