A PAIR of heroic students who rushed to help their peers after spotting the beginnings of the Cube tower block fire said they "knew they had to get everyone out".

Leah McKee-Hearne and Courtney Peaker left their friend's student flat on Friday night planning to enjoy a girl's night in but found themselves at the centre of a national disaster.

The pair were on their way back to their own apartment when Leah thought she smelled smoke coming from nearby and went to see what had caused it.

"I was telling Courtney that I could smell it and when we went to look I saw the flames reflected in the window", she told The Bolton News.

"Courtney walked around the corner, stopped and just stood there and stared. Then she said, 'Oh my god'."

When they first spotted the blaze the students said it looked like the flames were "inside the wall" but that they were already spreading.

The fire they had discovered would go on to spread throughout the Cube apartment block and lead to the evacuation of hundreds of people as 200 firefighters battled it late into the night.

But, it was their quick-thinking which helped to empty the building so quickly.

This Is Lancashire:

"We were absolutely terrified but we knew we had to get everyone out of the building," 20-year-old Leah said.

"After we saw the fire we called the building security and then we were running door to door up and down the corridor.

"I banged on all the doors shouting and getting people to come out. I was telling them to go down the stairs.

"People didn't believe it at first but within three minutes or so the smoke had spread upstairs and everyone was rushing out."

Courtney and Leah are now among hundreds of students who have been displaced from their homes by the fire and are living in temporary accommodation.

But, they have praised the people of Bolton for offering support in an extremely difficult time.

"The university has been fantastic. We can't thank everyone enough," Leah said.

"It's not their property and they didn't have to help but they have been brilliant. It's been such a family feel everyone has pitched in and the community has been amazing."