The people of Coleraine have been hailing local heroes who |rescued two young women and a five-year-old boy from a burning house in the town.
As the fire service sped to the scene of the house fire — with the three trapped upstairs — neighbours grabbed ladders, placed them against the wall as smoke billowed from the windows and led the three to safety.
It happened at a semi-detached house in the town’s Grassmere Court on Wednesday night.
One of the rescuers, David Johnston, told the Belfast Telegraph: “I was in the kitchen and heard a bit of a commotion outside and when I went out saw the two women and the child at the upstairs window calling for help. There was a lot of smoke swirling about.
“I grabbed a ladder, my wife Patricia called the fire service, and when I placed the ladder against the wall another neighbour Ivan Park climbed up and got the boy and carried him down to the garden, one of the young women followed him down.
“The neighbours were brilliant. Another ladder appeared and the second woman, who was a bit panicky, was led down. The fire service were there very fast but by the time they got there all three were out.
“The wee boy took it all in his stride, and was all eyes at what was going on — he was excited to see the fire brigade and the ambulance and then the firefighters tackled the fire which was in a downstairs room. Nobody was injured and that’s the main thing. The whole neighbourhood rallied round and helped.”
Little Melissa Park (10), daughter of rescuer Ivan, said she was proud of her dad as he climbed up and carried the boy down from the window.
“I was out playing and the three people appeared at the window shouting for help and I went in and told dad. He climbed up and got the boy and then the two women came down. It was great that they were all rescued,” she said.
Ivan added: “I did what anyone would have done to get people out of a burning house. The fire service was there in literally minutes.”
Coleraine fire station officer Mark Deeney has praised the |efforts of the neighbours in rescuing the three people, who do not want their names published.
He added that there was a mains smoke alarm in the house but that a fuse was missing and it did not function.
“Everyone should make sure their smoke alarm is fully functional,” he said.
“However, I must commend the neighbours for their heroic efforts in rescuing the three people. We didn’t waste any time getting there but by then all three were safely out of the burning building.”
He added that three appliances were called to the fire which caused extensive damage in a downstairs room and smoke damage throughout the house.
One of the two women required on-the-spot first aid for smoke inhalation and was admitted to hospital for further treatment, but all three escaped serious injury.
Mr Deeney said: “The downstairs room was well alight but we managed to contain the flames.”
A spokesperson for the NI Fire and Rescue Service said that the fire was caused accidentally.