Three passers-by have been hailed as heroes after risking their own lives to save a terrified pensioner from his blazing Sheffield home.
The man, in his 70s, was drying clothes on portable heaters in his lounge when the garments went up in flames – filling his flat with choking, black smoke.
He survived only because Zoe Shore was driving past with her fiancé Mathew Evans, both 24, and spotted smoke.
The couple, who live on the same street as the pensioner on Carr Road, Deepcar, pulled over and discovered the flat was on fire with somebody trapped inside.
The man told the couple he was unable to find his key.
So Mathew kicked through the back door to get inside while student nurse Zoe dialled 999 and rang her stepfather Paul Bennett, who lives close by.
Driving instructor Paul arrived at the scene at the same time as a motorist who was passing by and also spotted smoke.
The three brave men then entered the smoke-filled flat to find the trapped pensioner.
Mathew used a bucket of water to extinguish the flames while Paul and the other Good Samaritan led the pensioner to safety.
Today firefighters praised the trio for saving the OAP’s life.
Group manager Mick Mason said: “This man is lucky to be alive – it was a very serious fire with extensive smoke damage throughout the flat.
“The neighbours did an excellent job not only to be alert to the situation and call 999 but also to take the action they did.
“We would not normally encourage any member of the public to enter a burning building but, on this occasion, it is quite possible they saved this pensioner’s life.”
Mathew, a packaging designer, said: “I didn’t think about my own safety – adrenalin kicked in. I just thought if it was my grandad in there I would want somebody to save him.
“I kicked the door in with my feet and it was completely and utterly black inside the flat apart a three foot space above the floor.”
Paul added: “I didn’t know what to expect when Zoe called me, and as I arrived another man who was passing pulled up and offered to help.
“We all went into the flat and while Paul was pouring water on the flames me and the other chap found the man inside and dragged him out. He was covered in black.
“Deep down I knew it was dangerous, but if it was your own mum or dad trapped like that you would hope somebody would do the same.
“He was shouting to us so we knew he was alive, and thankfully it was just a small flat we had to go into rather than a house, because I don’t think we would have reached him if his place had been any bigger.”
Zoe said: “I am just so glad we stopped, because if we had driven on that man could have been dead.
“I am proud of Mathew, my stepdad and the other man who helped, although I was scared at the time and shouting at them to come out because the thick smoke was frightening. They could hardly breathe and they couldn’t see.”
n South Yorkshire firefighters walk out on strike again from 7pm to midnight tonight in an ongoing dispute over pensions.
Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: “Our emergency response service will be significantly reduced during the strike period, so the best way to stay protected is to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home.
“If you do discover a fire don’t attempt to tackle it yourself - get out, stay out and still call 999.”