Fire crews have been called to Invicta House in Margate for the third time in just a week.
Crews were called at 8.26pm to the Millmead Road tower block by a concerned neighbour who saw smoke billowing from the 12th floor and also by a resident who was in his flat with his partner and two small children.
Seven fire engines and the height vehicle attended the scene. The blaze was found on the stairwell between the second and third floors. It is understood the cause is being treated as arson.
A Kent Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “Crews are carrying out a search of the building and residents have been advised to keep their front doors closed and to open windows for ventilation. Three people have been reported as suffering with the effects of smoke inhalation.”
Councillor Gary Taylor, who was at the scene, said that it had actually been four people who were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation.
Mum-of-two Claire Horn was in her third floor flat this evening with her partner Reece Chess and their two young children:
She said:“We were looking out the window to see if it was kids again as they normally run off after pressing the fire alarm out of the main entrance.
“As we couldn’t see anything my partner checked the bin chute as that was where the fire was the last two times. On his way back in he noticed the stairwell window was full of thick black smoke. He saw a yellow glow through the window but no flames. The window was warm to the touch.
“He came back in told me to get the kids up and dressed as he called 999. He was on the phone for five minutes 22 seconds and by the time he hung up they were already here. We asked them to come and get us out as we couldn’t take the only fire exit we have because it was blocked by the fire.
“My partner shouted out the window to the fire bridge asking again to get us. They said they would as soon as they could. We were advised to get in the furthest room away from the fire, shut all doors and put towels up against the doors to block smoke coming in.
“Roughly 15 minutes later a fireman knocked on our door, wearing full breathing apparatus. He came in, shut the door and told us it was out and it was safer to stay inside as the smoke was still thick and it wasn’t getting in the flat.
“We were told to open windows to make a draft so if smoke did get in it would quickly disperse. They put fans in the stairwell as the smoke had covered the 14 floors.
“The stairwell has now been taped off from the first to the third floor. The fire alarms aren’t loud enough. If we had been asleep we wouldn’t have heard them until the smoke set off the alarm in the flat.
“I’ve been here coming up to 4 years. Fires happen but never this often.”
There have been two rubbish chutes fires at Invicta House in the past week on March 25 and March 28. Police had been investigating an incident that took place on March 28 but later said it was no longer being deemed as suspicious.
Police were at the flats this evening taking photographs of the scene.
Last year police issued an appeal for information following a spate of deliberate fires at Trove Court tower block in Ramsgate. The rubbish chute at the building was targeted numerous times during the Summer.