TWO flats have been completely gutted in a top floor blaze which left a cat dead and a firefighter injured.
Charred debris from the apartments, which face one another across the stairwell, had been piled up on the grass outside.
The occupants of the flats on Portland Street, a man and a woman, were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and had not yet returned to assess the damage.
A woman living on the ground floor said it was a “miracle” no one had been killed as the blaze raged through the building.
Residents from an adjoining tenement block said that they had watched as firefighters evacuated the neighbouring flats and that smoke had seeped into their homes too.
Among them was Roger Page, 71 chose to leave his flat when he saw smoke flitering into his kitchen.
He said: “The smoke started to filter in at about 10pm. I got out of the flat and waited until the all clear was given. The kitchen was full of smoke.“The firemen put me in a cabin in one of the fire engines and looked after people very well.”
He added: “I saw the dog, which looked like a greyhound, walking out. I also saw the cat that lived being carried out.”
It is understood that the occupants of the tenement block were only allowed to return to their flats shortly before 2am after firefighters had checked the roof space.
Stunned neighbour Michelle McKenzie, 30, who also lives on the top floor of the adjoining block, said she had held the door open to allow her neighbours to get out.
She said:“I was a bit taken aback and you could see the flames and black smoke coming out of the top floor flat. “There was smoke coming into my kitchen and living room and a guy came in to check it.”
Two fire crews had been called to the incident and six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the building to search the flat.
A man and a woman were led to safety and treated at the scene for smoke inhalation before being taken to hospital for further checks.
One firefighter suffered minor injuries during the rescue but did not require hospital treatment.
A cat from the flat was also rescued along with two dogs and another cat from neighbouring homes.
The fire service said one of the cats was resuscitated but the other, which lived in the flat that caught fire, died.
Officers extinguished the blaze and made the scene safe, with investigators due to check for the cause today.