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We could have burned to death’

PUBLISHED: 12:08 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:10 25 August 2010

SAVED: Mum Ellen stands amongst the rubble that was her home. Her life was saved by the

SAVED: Mum Ellen stands amongst the rubble that was her home. Her life was saved by the

EXCLUSIVE A TRAVELLER who saved her sister from death after a fire broke out in her caravan has blasted a council for ignoring the community s pleas to replace a vandalised emergency hose.

EXCLUSIVE

A TRAVELLER who saved her sister from death after a fire broke out in her caravan has blasted a council for ignoring the community's pleas to replace a vandalised emergency hose.

Laura Saunders, 28, of Powerscroft Road, Foots Cray, was in bed when she heard her sister's son come into her caravan telling her children 'I have made a fire'.

Spotting flames coming from her sister's caravan next door, she raced to the scene but when she opened the door she was forced back by fire and black smoke.

Brave Miss Saunders grabbed the PVC bedroom window, yanked it off, groped around the smoky room before grabbing her sister's legs and pulling her thought the window.

Mother-of-two Ellen Saunders, 26, was taken by ambulance to Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, with her son Jessie where they were both treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Her sister said: "Everyone else thought she was out. But I had a feeling she was in there.

"It is amazing what you can do when you are frightened. I don't know how I managed to pull the window off.

"We begged the council to put a hose in but they haven't done it. It is not our responsibility.

"Someone from the council came down on Monday and said sorry. But sorry is not enough. What if we couldn't have got her out? When the fire engines came it was burnt to the ground."

Ellen Saunders said: "My sister saved my life. She is a hero.

"The last thing I remember is giving the kids the bottle before they went to bed and then waking up and being dragged out of the window.

"Everything I own is burnt. I am still in shock.

"By law we are supposed to have a fire hose on every gypsy site and there are none here.

"It is absolutely appalling. We are treated like animals.

"We have been telling the council about the lack of a hose before this happened and they did nothing about it.

"We are treated like scum."

A spokesperson for Bexley council claimed the hose was vandalised three times since they provided a £2,000 replacement in July last year.

Laura Saunders said: "It doesn't matter if it was vandalised, it should still be replaced because it is a fire hose. It can be vandalised 10 times and they should replace it because lives are at stake."

The spokesperson added: "The replacement has been ordered and will be installed by the end of next week.

"Since April this year the council has spent more than £10,500 on repairs - approximately £7,000 of which was as a result of vandalism or tenant damage. It is estimated that a further £40,000 of repairs is outstanding, relating directly to vandalism or tenant damage.

"In addition to the hose being replaced, a full fire safety audit of the site will be carried out shortly.

"Any recommendations stemming from this audit and those that may be contained within the report from the fire authority, will be implemented as a matter of priority."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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