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Harold Hill and Harold Wood residents rescue elderly neighbours from house fires - thanks to smoke alarms

PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 February 2013

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Two sets of quick-thinking neighbours turned Good Samaritan this week, helping an elderly man and woman escape their burning homes.

On Sunday afternoon, a woman, her daughter, and another man let themselves into an 88-year-old man’s maisonette after hearing a smoke alarm. Finding the kitchen on fire, the trio led their neighbour to safety before calling the fire brigade.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and gave the man, who was suffering from smoke inhalation, oxygen and first aid. He was taken by ambulance to Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

One of the rescuers, who did not wish to be named, said he initially thought was hearing a car alarm.

“My neighbour’s kitchen door was open so me and another neighbour went in and got him,” he said. “The kitchen was thick with smoke.

“We called the fire and ambulance. He had breathed in a lot of the smoke.

“I’ve been his neighbour for nine years and we get on really well. He’s a good neighbour - always ready to listen.

“I don’t consider myself a hero - I’d do it again tomorrow for any of my neighbours.”

The alarm was raised at about 4.40pm in Dagnam Park Drive, Harold Hill. The fire brigade had fitted the crucial smoke detector during a routine visit just a fortnight earlier.

It is thought the blaze was started by a microwave.

Harold Hill fire station’s watch manager Steve West said: “It’s great to see that proactive fire safety work carried out by the crews at this station led to such a positive outcome. It is vital that you have a working smoke alarm as it gives you – or, in this case, your neighbours – an early warning of a fire happening.”

And a Harold Wood woman, also in her 80s, was rescued from a house fire in the early hours of Tuesday – again after her smoke alarm alerted neighbours.

The fire in Church Road, thought to have been started by an electrical fault in the woman’s shower, damaged about five per cent of the house’s first floor. The alarm was raised at about 5.40am and firefighters from Romford and Harold Hill spent another two hours on the scene in Church Road, Harold Wood.

Ambulance staff treated the woman for smoke inhalation and took her to Queen’s Hospital, Romford.

London Fire Brigade’s borough commander for Havering, Chris Drew, praised both sets of neighbours for their quick thinking – but added a word of warning.

“It is great that Havering residents are looking out for their elderly neighbours and acting quickly when they notice a fire,” he said.

“It’s important, though, that people don’t put themselves in danger. Our simple message is: get out, stay out and call the fire brigade out.”

If you think an elderly relative or neighbour would benefit from a home fire safety visit, go to http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/HomeFireSafetyVisit.asp. Where necessary, firefighters visiting homes will fit free smoke alarms.

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