A YOUNG woman who broke her back jumping from a first-floor window to escape a house fire has told how she thought she was going to die.
Jade Hardy, 21, of Warrior Square, St Leonards, fractured her spine after landing on a scooter and bike during the blaze.
She was staying over with friends and her boyfriend, Jamie Lee, at the house in Eversley Crescent in Silverhill when the fire took hold at around 2am on Sunday.
She had to undergo an operation on her spine on Wednesday at the Conquest Hospital.
Miss Hardy said: “It was pretty scary and I thought I was going to die. I was screaming for help.
“Earlier we were all downstairs in the lounge and candles were lit, as there was no light. Jamie later got up in the night to have a cigarette and discovered the fire.”
Three children were inside the burning house, one of whom was a baby. The other people who escaped were Mr Lee, Miss Hardy, her friend and the owner of the house.
All seven were treated for smoke inhalation.
Mr Lee rescued the three children and held his hands out from outside so his girlfriend could jump into his arms from the first-floor window. At that point the flames were spreading upstairs.
Miss Hardy’s friend, who also jumped to safety, broke both her ankles and also needed treatment at the Conquest.
Neighbours were awoken by the commotion and rallied around to help.
Richard Campbell, of Eversley Crescent, said: “The two women opened the window and a great big plume of smoke came out. They were screaming that they could not get down the stairs.
“I ran into the front garden outside the house and saw the lounge was well and truly ablaze so dialled 999.
“One of the women by then had started to climb out from the window. She let herself drop and landed on a scooter and bike. I went to see if she was okay as she had been badly hurt. I then called an ambulance.”
He added that he and Mr Lee carried Miss Hardy to a nearby grass verge before paramedics arrived and treated her.
A next-door neighbour, who wished not to be named, said he saw Miss Hardy and her friend from the top-floor window shouting for help.
He said: “I told them both I would get a ladder so they could climb down and get out. I couldn’t find the key to my shed so ran across the road to another neighbour who lent me a ladder.
“Panic had set in quite severely before we could get the ladder so by the time I returned both women had decided to jump.”
Julie Gilbert-King, fire investigation officer for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS), said: “The fire started at the front area of the lounge. There were a number of bystanders by the time crews arrived and concerned neighbours had even made attempts to break the front door down.”
PC Duncan Cleverley, of Hastings Police, said: “It appears that there were no suspicious circumstances. There was a full examination the following morning by ESFRS and our own SOCO officers. They concluded that the fire was accidental.”