Revealed: Face of woman who leapt from the flames to escape the Croydon inferno

  • Monika Konczyk, 32, is 'absolutely traumatised' by her experience
  • She only moved from Poland to join her sister in London in March

She came to the UK just a few months ago, hoping for a better life.

But when marauding yobs set her street on fire, Monika Konczyk had to fight for her very survival.

The image of her jumping from her first floor flat as flames tore through the building became an iconic image of the riots.

Terrified, fearing she was going to die, the 32-year-old shop assistant from Poland was paralysed until her sister Beata screamed at her to jump the 16 feet to the street below.

In shock: Monika Konczyk was pictured jumping for her life after fire tore through her first floor flat in Croydon

In shock: Monika Konczyk was pictured jumping for her life after fire tore through her first floor flat in Croydon

Caught in the arms of a man lined up under her window, she escaped unharmed.

She told last night how she thought she was going to die in her rented flat in the conservation area of central Croydon on Monday night.

The Daily Mirror reported that she told a friend: 'It was horrendous. I was trapped inside my flat with nowhere to go. There was no way out for me. I thought I was going to die. I thought I would burn to death.

'The flat was getting hotter and hotter and when I tried to escape out of the front door the heat was just too much.

'I was panicking. All I could do was put my head out the window and people saw me down in the street below.'

Despite her escape, her family said she has become withdrawn and depressed.

Miss Konczyk had watched all the violence on the television and her older sister had phoned to tell her not to go out.

So she got changed into her pyjamas and got ready for bed.

But at 9pm hooded youngsters broke into the House of Reeves furniture store, which backs onto her flat, and set it alight.

Ready to launch: Ms Konczyk had to throw herself from her burning flat

Ready to launch: Miss Konczyk had to throw herself from her burning flat

Safety: She was caught by police below, and is unharmed but very shaken

Safety: She was caught by police below, and is unharmed but very shaken

The store quickly turned into an inferno, endangering nearby residents with flames and smoke.

Miss Konczyk ran to the window and started shouting for help, just as her sister and husband arrived.

She told her friend: 'People started gathering and shouting at me to jump. But my English is not great. I've not been here for very long.

Recovery: Ms Konczyk's sister said she was deeply shocked by what had happened

Trauma: Miss Konczyk is said to be so shocked by her experience that she doesn't want to go outside

'Then a Polish man who lives in the area started speaking to me and eventually I was persuaded that I had to do it. I had to jump.'

Locals ignored police orders to stay back and defied thick smoke and heat to reach Miss Konczyk.

They laid out cushions and carpet rolls to soften her fall in case police didn't catch her.

As onlookers yelled 'jump, jump', she reportedly slid down an awning before jumping into the arms of a man waiting below.

It is unclear if she was caught by riot police or a Romanian man named Adrian, who told the Daily Mirror she was weeping with shock when he caught her.

He added: 'We are neighbours. Nobody is a hero.'

Her sister (Mrs) Beata Mecaj 37, said last night: ‘She is incredibly traumatised as she feels she narrowly escaped death.

‘She is staying with me at the moment and I’m looking after her.

‘It will take a while for her to get over this.

‘She only came to the UK a few months ago and we are appalled that something like this could happen here.

‘We always thought this country was so civilised.’

Miss Konczyk had come to the UK in March to learn English and to join her older sister, who has lived in the UK for five years.

She had recently started a relationship with Amar Sharabi, a business graduate from India.

He said yesterday: ‘Monika is absolutely traumatised and very stressed. She doesn’t want to even leave the house.’

A friend, Aleksandra Robak, said Miss Konczyk ‘didn’t want to jump, she thought she was going to die'.

She added: ‘She was terrified and screaming at her sister that all of her things were in her flat and she didn’t want to leave them.

‘She was also very scared of jumping but Beata told her it’s better to jump than to die.

‘She is going to the doctors because we think she is suffering from depression.

‘Poor Monika has been very quiet since Monday and is not herself – she is still very shaken and upset.’

Miss Konczyk, who is from the Polish town of Koronowo, has not returned to her job at Poundland in the Whitgift centre, where she works with her sister.