Three teenagers who leapt from a third-floor window to escape a house fire suffered only minor injuries after breaking their 7m fall with a trampoline.
Fifteen firemen raced to a house in Broughton Park, Salford, in the early hours of last Friday morning, after a neighbour reported that three people were trapped inside. A fire was thought to be raging on the ground level of a terraced town house on the Broughton Green development on Northumberland Street.
But by the time fire crews arrived just four minutes later, the panicking girls had been encouraged by bystanders to leap out of a bedroom window onto a large trampoline in the back garden of the house.
A neighbour who lives in Broughton Green, a new development largely populated by strictly Orthodox families, said he was woken at around 4am by screams and "cries of Shema Yisrael", traditionally recited when someone thinks they are going to die.
"Different voices in Polish and English accents were calling out to the girls trying to help and urging them to jump from the window," he said.
The North West Ambulance Service confirmed that three teenagers, two aged 16 and one 17-year-old, had been treated for back and neck pain and smoke inhalation. They were taken to Salford Royal Hospital but were said to have suffered only minor injuries.
Station commander Paul Duggan from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service urged people not to use trampolines as an escape method but to wait for fire crews to arrive, adding that the girls' leap, "could have been a lot worse.
"We would always encourage people not to jump from a building or window, unless it is absolutely desperate circumstances, where smoke or flames are behind you and staying there will mean loss of life," he said.
He said an investigation had concluded an accidental fire had started in some food items on the ground floor. It is understood the girls were house-sitting for the family who lived there, who were holidaying in Switzerland.