Tributes to ‘superstar’ former model Sofia Duarte, 21, found dead in Southwark flat fire

Superstar Sofia Duarte dreamed of being a prison officer (Supplied)
Superstar Sofia Duarte dreamed of being a prison officer (Supplied)

This is the first picture of a “superstar” bartender found dead in a fire above a Nigerian restaurant on New Year’s Day.

Sofia Duarte, 21, was found on the third floor of a building after the horror blaze with a couple and a man managing to escape.

Fireballs burst from a flat above Nigerian restaurant Calabar Zone on Sunday.

 (Supplied)
(Supplied)

Footage shows two fireballs exploding out of a third- floor window as passers-by scream for help below and try to smash down the front door. Witnesses said a mystery naked man escaped the blaze and fled the scene.

Close family friend Kyle Steward, 21, told The Standard: “She was such a superstar, she kept me going, if I was down I would call her and she would kick me up the arse. She would tell me we wouldn’t be friends if you weren’t an amazing person. She was my first-ever girlfriend.

Sophia Duarte had lived in Chiswick (Supplied)
Sophia Duarte had lived in Chiswick (Supplied)

“She was wild, funny and knew how to live.

“She loved style, she loved travelling and had been in Dubai, she loved the warm weather out there and was always back and forth from Lisbon.

“She was a good babysitter when we needed her she would act like a mother. She was the perfect person and I’m devastated she is gone. I haven’t slept.”

The fire broke out on third floor (Google Maps)
The fire broke out on third floor (Google Maps)

Sofia dreamed of becoming a prison officer and wanted to use her personality to get more out of prisoners to help with their rehabilitation, he said.

He added: “Her dream was to make it in life for her mum to be proud of her. Her mum, Maria, is the strongest woman I know but she is in pieces. She would always make excuses to pop into her mum’s place and visit.

“We are left with so many questions, was her door locked? Where did the fire start? How come everybody escaped but she was stuck? Was she locked in? It’s horrific.”

Sophia had worked as a bartender in central London before Christmas but dreamed of becoming a prison officer (Supplied)
Sophia had worked as a bartender in central London before Christmas but dreamed of becoming a prison officer (Supplied)

The Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade are now investigating the cause of the blaze.

A statement from the police read: “Police were called to Old Kent Road, shortly before 5pm on Sunday, January 1 to reports of a fire.

“Officers attended along with the London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service. Residents were evacuated and road closures were put in place.

“Sadly, one woman, believed to be in her 20s, died at the scene. A crime scene has been put in place.”

To donate to the funeral fund of Sophia Duarte click here.