BLACK PLUMES filled the sky as firefighters battled a blaze that had engulfed the top four floors of a Kingston tower block yesterday evening.
The block of flats, in the Cambridge Estate, went up in flames, just before 4.45pm, producing a thick black smoke that could be seen from miles around.
Up to 100 firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish the fire, which raged on until just after 7.45pm.
It is believed all the residents of the 15 storey block were evacuated and that no one was injured.
61-year-old Sue Mitchell was asleep when the fire started, but was rescued by a neighbour.
She said: "I got home from work at about 3.30pm, and I fell asleep. I was woken up by a bang bang bang on the front door. I didn't know what it was, and then it happened again. My neighbour came rushing in and got me out of there. I didn't know what was happening. My grandson was in one of the other block of flats, but as soon as he saw the fire, he and his friend came flying over to get me. They're all heroes. I would have been asleep otherwise."
It is believed the fire started on the 12 th floor.
Rob Souter, 44, was in his 11 th floor flat when he first noticed.
He said: "I smelt the smoke when I was in the kitchen, but I thought it was my stereo going up. I didn't realise what it was for a moment, but I got out of there and by that time most people were out. It went up so quickly."
Kingston council set up temporary accommodation for residents in Piper Hall in the nearby Cambridge Gardens for those who had been affected by the devastating blaze.
As firefighters were lifted to the top of the building by cranes and started to extinguish the blaze, debris from the building fell to the ground.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Bystander Joseph Sharratt, 24, said: "It's unreal, it seemed to go up so fast. I couldn't believe the amount of black smoke billowing in the sky but I thought it was brought under control very quickly."