A cat named Steve has been hailed a hero after alerting a woman to a fire that tore through a block of flats in Clapham.

Wandsworth Times:

Big hero: Steve the car alerted Georgina Harris to the danger

The 12-year-old tabby began behaving strangely on Tuesday, April 14, while Georgina Harris, who lives in Westbury Court, Nightingale Lane, was getting ready for bed.

Ms Harris, 41, said Steve, an indoor cat, went to the front door as if to alert her to a problem outside.

She added: "I opened the door and there was nothing there so I went back to the sofa and suddenly Steve let out a meow I have never heard - he howled.

"I opened the door again and looked around to see and could smell a terrific smell of smoke and saw a plume of smoke coming around the corner towards me."

Ms Harris, an author, said she instinctively grabbed Steve and "tore down" the corridor to wake up the building's caretaker before fleeing with other residents, who were all in their pyjamas, to Clapham Common.

Four fire engines and 21 firefighters from Clapham, Battersea, Tooting and Brixton fire stations were called to the block at about 11.23pm and crews led 10 people to safety from the seven-storey block.

A man was rescued from the bedroom of the flat which was on fire on the first floor of the building and he was treated for smoke inhalation and taken to hospital.

Watch manager Tom Furnell said: "The flat was full of smoke when firefighters wearing breathing apparatus found the man in a bedroom and carried him out. We also led 10 other people to safety down an internal staircase and around 50 people had left the building before the brigade arrived at the scene.

"The alarm was raised by a passerby who spotted smoke coming out of one of the flat’s windows. The flat where the fire started didn't have a working smoke alarm. Having a working smoke alarm and testing it regularly is essential as they can buy you vital seconds to escape in the event of a fire."

Wandsworth Times:

Damage: The fire was thought to have started here

Ms Harris added the damage to the flat looks like "a gap in a row of teeth".

The fire, which was under control by 12.47am on April 15, was believed to have been caused by a candle left unattended.