NEIGHBOURS pitched in to help rescue residents from a burning building this morning.

The fire had broken out in a flat at Garnet House in St Georges Road, Kemp Town, shortly before 10am, and smoke was billowing from a window on the first floor.

Ian Courtier, who lives in nearby Crescent Place, said his neighbour rushed to rescue residents in the building, including an old lady with one leg.

He said: "It was so brave of them. My neighbour, also called Ian, was just doing some building work at home and it turns out his builder is a retired fire fighter.

"The building was alight and it was chaos outside with lots of people shouting.

"They both went in and helped a little old lady out of the building who only had one leg - you couldn't make it up.

"She was delightfully eccentric - a typical Kemp Townian.

"They tried to rescue another poor chap on the top floor but it turns out he was deaf and he couldn't hear them knocking. 

"Luckily the fire brigade arrived very quickly and took control of the situation.

"It was like watching a film, all in little old Kemp Town."

Another witness said: "There was lots of smoke coming out of a window from the flat above the carpet shop, and lots of smoke in the street.

"People were coming out shouting: 'There's a fire and everyone needs to get out', and there were people out knocking on doors trying to help and get everyone out before the fire service arrived.

"There was one man on the top floor shouting that he could not get out.

"Once the fire service got there this chap was still standing at the window and they had to use one of those cherry picker lifts to help him.

"We saw fire fighters go in wearing masks to get more people out of the flat.

The Argus: A fire fighter at the scene in St Georges RoadA fire fighter at the scene in St Georges Road

"There were four or five fire engines but luckily everyone seems OK and no-one was hurt."

An investigation into the fire found it was started in a kitchen and the first floor flat was "extensively damaged", so much so that the tenant is being re-housed by Brighton and Hove City Council.

The fire service said crews used an aerial ladder platform to reach the man trapped in a flat on one of the floors above the fire, and they also evacusted three others, including the tenant in the flat where the fire started.

Incident Commander Tom Walby said: "The aerial ladder platform was used to reach one person and three others were led to safety. 

"Everyone else has been accounted for. " 

Part of St Georges Road was cordoned off at the junction with College Road following the incident, but the area was cleared this afternoon.