Page last updated at 19:48 GMT, Sunday, 5 July 2009 20:48 UK

Prayers for flats blaze victims

L-R: Rafael Cervi, Filipe Francisquini, Dayana Francisquini, Thais Francisquini
Dayana Francisquini told her husband she could not breathe

Six people killed in a fire at a tower block in south-east London two days ago have been remembered at several church services in the area.

Three women and three children were killed in the fire at the 12-storey Lakanal House in Camberwell on Friday.

Officials are examining escape routes and fire prevention measures to find out how the fire spread so quickly.

One survivor has described fearing for his life as he sought shelter in a bathroom with five of the six victims.

"I thought there was no chance. I thought this was the end," Rasheed Nuhu told Channel 4 News.

Flowers and tributes to the victims have been left at the block of flats, as the community rallies round for those who escaped.

The local vicar, the Reverend Nick George, said the community was being "very supportive".

Rasheed Nuhu
The moment I thought, 'We're not going to get out of this', was when the ladder could not reach where we were
Rasheed Nuhu

"I even heard that at a local church somebody put an envelope through the letterbox at the local vicarage with £100 in it saying this is for the people of Lakanal House."

He said people had also been inquiring about how they could donate clothes and other items.

A condolence book has also been put out at Southwark town hall and the borough's flag is flying at half-mast.

Mr Nuhu said his family had given refuge to blaze victims Helen Udoaka, 34, and her three-week-old daughter Michelle.

When his 11th floor flat filled with smoke, they moved into the bathroom of his next door neighbour Dayana Francisquini.

However he left to seek help when he realised the ferocity of the blaze.

"I looked to my left and saw this massive fireball... the type of scene when there's a plane crash and at this point I just thought we are in a precarious situation and we have to plan a getaway," he said.

Mr Nuhu, his wife and two children were then filmed by onlookers as they escaped on to a balcony on the floor above, where they were later rescued by firefighters.

Ms Francisquini, who had decided to stay in the bathroom, died along with her three-year-old son Filipe.

'Extremely traumatising'

Her six-year-old daughter - named in media reports as Thais - is also believed to have died, although police have not made any formal identification.

Another 11th floor resident in the block on the Sceaux Gardens Estate, Catherine Hickman, 31, also died. The fire is believed to have spread from a flat two floors below.

Mr Nuhu said he was haunted by the fact he had survived when others died, adding: "It's extremely traumatising, and I'm still trying to come to terms with that.

Mr Nuhu said he waited 90 minutes to be recued, with firefighters unable to get a ladder to the balcony.

Residents lay flowers at the fire scene
Floral tributes have been left at the scene of the fire

"The moment I thought, 'We're not going to get out of this', was when the ladder could not reach where we were. That's when I thought there was no chance.

"I thought this was the end."

Ms Francisquini's husband, Rafael Cervi, a 34-year-old hotel porter, told the Sunday Telegraph he spoke to his wife by phone as she sheltered in the bathroom.

He said the last words he heard from his wife were: "I can't breathe very well. I'm struggling to breathe and Filipe's really scared."

Thirty people were rescued from the building and 15 were taken to hospital, including three of those who died.

Fire officers said that while the building design was common, the rapid way the fire had spread was unusual.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) assistant commissioner Nick Collins said it was "one of the most significant fires in some time in terms of lives lost".

Councillor Nick Stanton, leader of Southwark Council, said: "This block is not untypical and met all the fire safety requirements laid down at the time of its construction.

He said the council had spent around £3.5m upgrading the block in recent years, including carrying out a safety survey and fitting fire resistant doors.

The investigation into the cause of the fire continues.


Experts at the 12-storey Lakanal House in Camberwell

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