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Ngongu Body and Colin Tsiengane commended for trying to save Dipen Kavia in Wood Green fire
The housemates of a man who died in a fire have been praised for their “courageous and brave” attempt to save his life.
Ngongu Body and Colin Tsiengane, both of Wood Green, were commended during the inquest into the death on Dipen Kavia at the North London Coroner’s Court, this morning.
The 34-year-old architect died after he accidentally set himself on fire at his home in High Road, Wood Green, on February 13, 2013.
Mr Body told the inquest that he was watching TV in his room at the time of the incident and was the first to notice the fire after he heard the smoke alarm at around 7.10pm.
He said: “I didn’t respond to the smoke alarm right away because I thought it might just someone cooking.
“But the alarm went on for a while so I decided to open my door and check – that’s when I saw smoke coming out from under Dipen’s door.
“His door was locked so I started banging on it and I could hear him gagging and coughing.”
Mr Body then called Mr Tsiengane from his room and they both attempted to force their way into the 34-year-old’s room.
A teary and emotional Mr Body added: “We couldn’t kick it down so I got a dumbbell from my room and used it to force the door.
“Once the door was open smoke came rushing out – there was flames everywhere and we started to panic.
“We screamed his name and tried to find him so we could drag him out but we couldn’t see him because of all the smoke.”
The two men then ran out of the flat, which was located above a betting shop, and called the emergency services.
Mr Tsiengane said Mr Kavia was like a brother to him and told the inquest he ran back into the burning building to try to save his friend.
He said: “I was screaming and screaming to the point where I lost my voice.
“But I couldn’t see him and the smoke was so thick that it was hard to breathe so I had to go back out.”
Members of Mr Kavia’s family, who watched from the public gallery, burst into tears after hearing the testimony of the two housemates and thanked them for their efforts to try to save their loved one.
Coroner Andrew Walker said: “It is a very human instinct to try to save another person in distress even at the risk of your own lives.
“I can’t commend both of you enough. It was an extremely brave and courageous thing you did.”
According to the forensic pathologist, Mr Kavia died of smoke inhalation and officers from the London Fire Brigade found no evidence that he had tried to kill himself.
Mr Walker concluded the 34-year-old had accidently set himself on fire as he was known to be a smoker and a can of butane, a highly flammable substance, was found in his room.
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