Cops catch man who jumped from building fire

A man hung out the bedroom window of his first storey flat on Ulster St in Hamilton crying for help as an electrical fire threatened to engulf his home.

The man, known by neighbours as Ace and in his 30s, attempted to climb out his bedroom window onto a drain pipe and had his head hanging out the window gasping for air as neighbours ran around trying to find a ladder to help him down. He had smashed the window in an attempt to escape the fire.

Taljit Singh, who lives on the first storey of the apartment block beside Ace, said he was woken at about 1.30am by screaming. He said the man was yelling "Indian bro help me".

Mr Singh and his flatmate ran out his ranch slider to the shared balcony and saw his neighbour's lounge engulfed in flames so ran around the back where the man was hanging out the window. He then started yelling for other neighbours to help as they all desperately searched for something to assist the trapped man.

Shanice Taniora, who lived in the flat below, called 111 said the man was struggling to breathe as smoke bellowed from his flat.

"He wanted to jump out," she said. "At first I think he was trying to climb down because we were rushing around trying to find something to help him down. There was no way he could get out the front."

About 10 tenants gathered on the driveway of the block of flats while two police officers went around to the back of the building and coaxed the man into jumping into their arms.

Police acting senior sergeant Dale Smith said the officers were the first to arrive at the scene and praised their heroic efforts. "The two officers raced to the back of the building and persuaded the man to jump and they caught him, just as fire-fighters arrived."

The police offiers had been on night shift and were unavailable this morning.

The fire service arrived shortly after and put out the fire in the lounge to stop it spreading to the rest of the flat.

Yesterday morning blackened broken glass was scattered all over the balcony and lounge and a burnt electrical plug was the telltale sign of the cause of the fire, which had also engulfed a table.

David Uren, who lives in a house in front of the block of flats, said the man's scream could be heard for a long distance.

He said the man had only moved in a month earlier and was an artist.

The man had suffered from smoke inhalation but discharged himself from Waikato Hospital early yesterday morning and returned to the flat briefly to ask Mr Singh to watch his property.

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