Fire in Worthing ‘could have turned into awful tragedy’

Two people were trapped in the fire but escaped unhurt
Two people were trapped in the fire but escaped unhurt

A fire that occurred weeks after a landlord found out the fire alarm did not work ‘could have turned into awful tragedy’.

Terry Millis, 62, was fined £20,000 this week after admitting that he put the lives of five residents of a Portland Road house in danger.

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Councillor Jim Deen, whose ward covers the house where the accidental fire happened, said the case is a ‘stark warning.

He told the Herald: “This was a frightening incident which could have turned into an awful tragedy had it not been for the bravery and prompt action of the fire service.

“It’s a stark warning of the dangers tenants in private rentals face where landlords fail to meet acceptable standards and neglect issues like fire alarms and other essential safety equipment which can put tenants at risk of serious injury or loss of life.”

READ MORE: Landlord’s £20,000 fine for Worthing fire sends ‘clear message’

“The acute housing shortage in Worthing, particularly for social and affordable housing, means that an increasing number of young people and families are dependent on private rentals.

“This incident is reminder to tenants that if the feel their landlord is not meeting adequate standards and making repairs when necessary, they should contact the council’s Private Sector Housing Team who can take action, including prosecution, against failing landlords.”

Mr Deen called for a national mandatory register of private landlords to be set up.

He added: “We urgently need to bring the private rental sector under control otherwise potentially tragic incidents like this are going to become increasingly frequent.”