Six fire crews and swathes of police and paramedics raced to the scene at Cottingley Towers as smoke billowed from the top of the tower yesterday morning.
Four people were rescued by fire crews and left in the care of paramedics.
While there was no compulsory evacuation of the flats, constructed in the 1970s, some people were helped out by the fire service while others chose to remain inside.
The blaze was confined to the one flat, which a spokesperson confirmed was unoccupied at the time. The fire service said it had been “severely damaged” and there had been some damage to the window of the flat above due to the heat.
Crews from Hunslet, Leeds, Stanningley, Rothwell and Killingbeck were called out after getting the call at 10.37am.
Area Manager Chris Kirby said: “There was no-one inside the flat where the fire started, or the flat above, however the high-rise building was occupied by other residents.
“Residents were safe to stay inside their flats whilst crews dealt with the fire, however, some people chose to leave the building and fire crews assisted a handful of people to get outside.
“The building did react in the way we would expect and the fire did not spread beyond the flat of origin, however that flat has been severely damaged by fire. I must praise the firefighters who dealt with this incident quickly and our partner agencies for their support in helping us deal with the fire and its aftermath in a very controlled way.”
By 12.20pm crews were damping down and the incident was reduced to two fire engines which remained at the scene.
However, the incident has caused concern among residents, particularly those who live on the upper floors.
Stuart O’Grady, 50, was on his way back to the flats as the drama unfolded in front of him. He said: “I had gone to buy dog treats and there were two fire engines.
“I came out of the shop and everything was taped up. It was a bit of a shock and is very scary.”
Phil Smith, 59, has lived in his first floor flat for 22 years and recalls around 50 fires in that time but this had the biggest response. He said: “Somebody came pounding on the door screaming ‘get out, there is a fire’. It has gone into panic because of Grenfell. I came out onto the first floor landing and could smell burning plastic so I knew it must be a bad one.
“I saw firemen running in with all the hoses and we must have had every police officer in Leeds up here at one point.”