Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Making the difference 2012: 999 hero

Firefighter Rick Allen

Gorse fires raged across Northern Ireland last summer causing major destruction to the landscape.

One couple say they owe their lives to two quick-thinking firemen who saved them from a blaze while they slept.

Debra and Colin Anderson, from Donaghadee, Co Down, were in the isolated Carrick-a-Rede National Trust cottage, in Ballintoy, Co Antrim, in May 2011.

The couple were suddenly woken up at around 2am by flashlights shining through the window. It was firemen to warn them about the gorse fire behind the cottage.

Firemen Hugh Magill from Ballycastle Station and Rick Allen from Coleraine were on duty that night.

The couple said it was Mr Magill’s “substantial local knowledge” that helped find them.

“It was through this that he was able to lead the other non-local firefighters to the cottage to check to see if it was inhabited,” said Debra, adding: “When I looked out the back window I could see a fan of flames coming out of the steep bank behind us.

“It was frightening to see the ferocity and unpredictability of the flames that were reaching around 30ft. You could smell the smoke everywhere.

“It makes us think about what would’ve happened if the wind had turned the fire towards the cottage and Hugh McGill hadn’t been on duty. Would the non-local firefighters have noticed the isolated cottage?”

The couple said they “owe their lives” to the firefighters.

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