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Neighbour rescues elderly man from house blaze
Published 26/11/12

A WOMAN has thanked a neighbour who helped save her husband from a fire at their home.

The 62-year-old asked Karl Reid to help and he went inside the house in Gap Way, Woodcote, and brought out her husband.

The 72-year-old man was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.

The woman, who did not want to be named, had been to Henley and was driving back to the semi-detached house on Saturday afternoon when she spotted smoke.

She realised it was serious when she arrived home to see the lounge window was black. Her husband was alone in the house but had been alerted by a smoke alarm.

The woman said: “I thought for a second we had put the blind down but then I noticed the glass was starting to crack.

“I was demented and ran around like a lunatic. Smoke was billowing out.”

She ran across the road to get help from Mr Reid, a steel fitter, who was at his partner’s house looking after their three-week-old son.

“He was absolutely marvellous,” said the woman. “I told him the house was on fire and he came across the road without hesitation and he closed all the doors.”

Mr Reid, 32, from Crays Pond, ran to the house with his partner’s father Ronnie Butler. The woman’s husband was helped out by Mr Butler but, being dazed, the elderly man went back inside and upstairs.

Mr Reid then went into the house and rescued the man.

He said: “I could see the fire just starting to burn through the lounge door so it immediately made me think, ‘shut all the doors and keep it in there’.”

He said he was scared as he went upstairs to find the man. “You can’t see for smoke and you wonder whether the house is going to blow,” he said. “I just wanted to get up there and get him out of the building. I didn’t think of my own safety or anything.

“It was weird because you don’t actually think about what you are doing. It wasn’t until afterwards when I was violently sick from coughing that I realised what I had done. I was like ‘wow, I’ve done something really good today’. It doesn’t happen every day. I just didn’t think about it at the time because I wanted to make sure people were safe.”

Six fire engines, police and an air ambulance were called to the scene. Firefighters managed to contain the fire to the living room.

The couple, who have lived at the house for 45 years, were taken in by neighbours and looked after before being treated by paramedics. The man was taken to Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading but released on Saturday evening.

The woman said: “I would sincerely like to thank everyone who was there — the fire brigade, the police and the families who offered us comfort. My next-door neighbours have been second to none. My biggest fear was the fire would spread to their house but they’ve been marvellous.”

The woman, who used to work at Fresh as a Daisy in Sonning Common before retiring just over a year ago, called Mr Reid “an amazing and wonderful man”. She said: “We wouldn’t have a home if it wasn’t for him. Our doors are 100 years old and that probably saved the fire from spreading throughout the house.

“We’ve just got to get our heads round it and realise we’re both alive. It’s personal belongings we’ve lost but we can start our home up again. I just can’t believe it has happened and I can only take the positive out of it that we’re fine.”

The couple, who were insured, are staying with their son in Wantage while the house is made habitable again. The property is boarded up at the front.

The woman said: “The house is repairable but we’ve lost a lot of personal things we’ve collected over the years, such as photos of our children and music I’ve had since I was 14. It has taken all my lovely records, which were a big part of my life.”

Mr Reid has been recommended for a bravery award by the fire service.

The blaze is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

Published 26/11/12

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