SHE woke up unable to breathe, and immediately feared for the safety of her young son.

And when she got out of her bed her feet immediately began to burn.

Looking down, Amarjeet Kaur saw she was standing in 4in of boiling water and could hear her son’s cries from the next room.

As reported over the weekend, hundreds of gallons of scalding hot water were pouring from her airing cupboard boiler – and cascading down communal stairs and into the flats beneath.

As Amarjeet and her son escaped, so did other residents in the newly built Empire View apartment block in West Park Road, Southampton.

During the evacuation, children had to be carried to safety amid fears they would be burnt as 15 firefighters battled to contain the torrent, which left some flats ankle-deep in water.

The drama began in the middle of the night when the pipe burst open in Amarjeet’s first-floor flat.

Moments later, thousands of litres of hot water began gushing from the boiler and through to the communal corridor, filling the area with steam. Beauty therapist Amarjeet, 32, who lives with her two-year-old son, Simranjit Singh, told how she had only returned home from a baby shower with her friend Eileen Levy at around 1am.

But they were awoken at around 2am by the boiling water entering the flat.

An emotional Amarjeet told the Daily Echo: “It was so scary, I can’t even explain it. We couldn’t breathe because of the steam.

“I got out of bed and my feet were burning. There was about 3in to 4in of water that had flooded the flat and I could hear my son screaming and crying.

“I just have this traumatic picture in my mind of what happened, and it’s killing me. It was horrible.

“I haven’t been able to sleep since because I keep having nightmares.

“Thank God we are safe. It could have been so much worse.”

Red Cross volunteers were called in to look after residents after they were forced to vacate their flood-hit homes, fleeing to the nearby Jury’s Inn hotel.

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: “The water was scalding hot at first and we thought that if a baby had put his feet in, they would have burnt.

“It was extremely hot and like a steam room.

“I looked through the peep hole in my door and there was steam everywhere.

“There was one lady in particular who was really distressed. I really felt for her.

“One of our neighbours who’d been walking around in the water had red feet because it was so hot.

“There was water going through the ceiling, and alarms were going off.

“My daughter was really traumatised by the experience because there was a lot of panic going on.”

Staff from First Wessex housing association were on the scene from 4am on Saturday to carry out safety checks.

Extensive damage was caused to the electrics, walls and furnishings in the flat where the leak started, while other flats also sustained water damage.

A spokesman from First Wessex said there had been “a few initial teething issues” with the block since its opening in 2012, when there was a leak on the roof above the entrance door to the building.

There were also initial problems with the lifts working intermittently, but this was resolved with no further reports of problems.

Last autumn, part of the large block was evacuated after a chip pan fire in one of the flats.

Some properties suffered water leakage as a result of water the fire service used to put out the blaze.

  • Additional reporting by Julian Robinson.