Regent’s Canal boat blaze victim thanks rescuers from hospital bed

A man who suffered serious burns after his canal boat was engulfed by flames has thanked his rescuers from his hospital bed, according to his mother.

Justin Stevens was taken to a specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital in Essex after flames ripped through the cabin of his narrow boat on the Regent’s Canal, near Dame Street.

The 33-year-old, who lived on the boat, is still “traumatised” after being transferred to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital following treatment for severe burns to his hands and face.


But the victim spoke of his admiration for passers-by – Tracey Corkish and a friend, who wished to remain anonymous – for helping save his life after mother Carol read him the Islington Gazette rescue story by his bedside.

The pair had hauled Mr Stevens from the boat as he struggled to break free at about 5am last Monday.

Carol said: “He’s improving but he’s not that great. He doesn’t really remember the fire and he was astonished when I showed him the article in the Gazette about people saving him.

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“He’s still traumatised and having a lot of pain relief. He’s very grateful to Tracey and her friend who have helped save his life.

“We’re just both so grateful they were walking by. It was pretty miraculous, but then I do believe in miracles. It was very brave of them to get involved.

“The nurses covered his face in cream as he had burns but the worst of it is on his hands.”

The rescuers pulled him from the boat before putting him in the water and dragging him to safety.

The victim’s mother said her son’s rescuers are now planning to visit Mr Stevens in hospital. It is now thought the fire was an accident and not suspicious.

Witnesses of the scene, who lived in flats overhead, spoke of “pandemonium” as Mr Stevens screamed for help from passers-by as the cabin became engulfed.

Peter Flack, whose flat in Dame Street overlooked the fire, said: “There was a girl and a man. I don’t know where they came from, but they got him off. I think they saved his life.

“You could just hear the man shouting and screaming ‘get me off, get me out of here, quick, quick’. It was pandemonium really.”

About 50 residents were evacuated from a nearby block of flats because the emergency services feared gas aboard the boat might explode.

Four fire crews from Clerkenwell, Islington, Shoreditch and Millwall were called at 5.32am and firefighters had the flames under control just over an hour later.

A fire spokesman confirmed Mr Stevens had reached safety before crews arrived.