Blaze hero tells how arson mum resisted rescue efforts
The father-of-four who saved Aine Kennedy and her sons from the house fire she set has told the Belfast Telegraph how she rebuffed his attempts to rescue her.
Ali Sedrati was watching football when he heard screams coming from next door. The 51-year-old went outside and saw Kennedy screaming for help from a window as smoke billowed out of her house.
He forced his way in through the back, finding a fire in the kitchen and in the middle of the living room. Ali said: "There was smoke everywhere. I couldn't see a thing – it was pitch black.
"I tried to put the fire out, but every time I put it down it kept coming back. I could still hear screaming from the window, but not a thing from the kids."
He made his way upstairs and reached out for Kennedy in the darkness. But he was astonished when she resisted him. Ali said: "I picked up her hand and she wanted to let go. I said: 'Come on, we need to go'. It was scary. I don't understand why she was withholding. I pushed her to the stairs and said: 'Where are the kids?' She mentioned nothing about the kids, so I put her on the stairs and then I tried to go and quickly get the children."
He managed to get the family out the front door, then went back in to retrieve some of their possessions, unaware there were 34 butane gas canisters still inside.
Shouts from other neighbours alerted him to the danger. When he got outside, he collapsed.
"I had to go back in – I thought she was going to lose everything", Ali said.
When the ambulance came Kennedy insisted they didn't need hospital treatment. "She said: 'We're not going'. All I could think was 'why?'," he said.
He denied he was a hero, insisting any dad would have acted in the same way. He said: "I never thought, as a neighbour, that something like that would happen and I'd run in to save kids or a woman. (But) as a dad, when you see someone asking for help, you have to go and act.
"Whatever she did, all I was thinking about was getting them out. She asked for help and I was there to give it to her."