Man flees fire in block of flats carrying dog

Highfield Road resident Donald Kinnaird, with his dog Demon, outside their block of flats that was the scene of a fire in the stairwell which is believed to have been started deliberately
Highfield Road resident Donald Kinnaird, with his dog Demon, outside their block of flats that was the scene of a fire in the stairwell which is believed to have been started deliberately

A dog owner escaped through a window with his beloved pet in his arms as smoke billowed into his flat from the burning stairwell outside.

Donald Kinnaird, 35, fled his flat in Highfield Road, Kettering, with his rottweiler Demon after opening his door to a wall of black smoke on Monday evening.

Mr Kinnaird said: “It was like someone had put a black bin bag over the door. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t breath.

“I shut my door, dropped to the floor and crawled through the flat. The firemen couldn’t believe I was alive.

“The smoke came across the ceiling like a black carpet.”

The 10 residents who were at home when the fire, the cause of which is under investigation, broke out at about 8.40pm were led to safety.

Residents included elderly people and a pregnant woman.

Two men were treated in hospital after firefighters put out the blaze and led them to safety down the stairs, but no-one was seriously injured.

Mr Kinnaird was watching television when three-and-a-half-year-old Demon began to growl and whine.

Thinking someone was at the front door of his ground-floor flat, Mr Kinnaird opened it and was pushed back by a burst of hot air.

Kevin Hedges, group manager for the fire service in the north of the county, said: “It would have been pretty hot in that staircase.

“If people had put soft furnishing in the stairwell it would have burned quite well.”

Mr Kinnaird opened a window to flee but his panicking pet was too heavy to lift.

Luckily Nathan Freeman, 28, from a neighbouring block came to his aid and helped lift Demon from the flat.

Mr Kinnaird said: “It was one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me.”

Kettering Council, which owns the 12 flats, worked with the British Red Cross Fire Support Service to find temporary accommodation for residents. Some stayed with friends and family. The council housed others.

The council surveyed the damage on Tuesday, but residents are yet to learn when they can return home.

The electricity to the flats was cut and the stairwell was severely damaged in the blaze.