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Hero barmen rescue pensioner and his pet dog from Derry flat inferno


Emmet Helferty

Emmet Helferty

Ryan Barras

Ryan Barras

Emmet Helferty

Two barmen have been hailed as heroes after pulling a pensioner from a burning flat during a dramatic rescue in Londonderry city centre yesterday.

Emmet Helferty and Ryan Barras, who work in the Brickwork Lounge in Castle Street, broke down the door of the man's flat in Magazine Street after being alerted to the blaze.

They pulled the OAP and his dog to safety as flames took hold of the building.

"At about 3pm a fella ran into the bar and asked us if we had a key or access to the flat next door to the bar," Emmet told the Belfast Telegraph.

"He said there was a fire. We went out to the street and saw the smoke coming out of a vent in the flat.

Me and another fella who works with me, Ryan Barras, ran towards it.

"The fella who owns the bar owns the building with the flat in it, so we went up the fire escape and ran across the flat roof until we got to the door.

"There was a window at the side of the door and we could see that the flat was already thick with black smoke.

"Myself and Ryan gave the door a good kick each and managed to get it down.

"We got in and it was pitch black. We couldn't see anything. We could just hear a dog barking."

The pair ran down the hallway towards the living room and kitchen area.

"We found a man on the living room floor. He was in shock I think," added Emmet.

"He had the phone in his hand and was trying to ring the fire brigade.

"We couldn't see our hands in front of our faces because of the thick smoke, but I could see the flames licking up the wall and going across the ceiling.

"We tried to get the man up but I think he was so shocked he couldn't move, he just froze.

"So Ryan and me lifted him under the arms and carried him out, got him out into the hall and got him on his feet and helped him out of the house. His little dog was barking and was absolutely terrified. He wouldn't come to us. But we managed to get him out too.

"We got them both down stairs and into the bar. Then we had to evacuate the bar because it was filling with smoke.

"So we went into the restaurant and got the man settled and warm with a blanket and a cup of tea. By that time the Fire Service, police and ambulance were there."

Emmet said he's no hero, he just "did what anyone else would have done" in his position.

He added: "The mad thing is there was no thought there, we just did it. There was no time for a thought process. There was someone in there who needed saving and we just ran.

"It is just something that I'd like to think that anyone else would have done had they the opportunity. I knew that an older man lived in that flat and he needed help and Ryan and I just wanted to try our best to get him out."

The pensioner's daughter said that she could never thank the barmen enough for saving her father.

She added that her father didn't want to be identified.

"Daddy is in hospital getting treatment," she said.

"He told me of the ordeal and said that he thought, as he was laying on the living room floor, that it was all over, that was it. Then he says he felt these hands lift him. He is in shock, he is totally overwhelmed and so are we. The enormity of it all has hit us today. We could have been looking at a very different Christmas had these two absolute heroes not helped daddy get out.

"It is amazing to think that they did what they did. Nobody runs into a burning building, most people would run away, but these boys ran straight in.

"They are amazing. There are no words to thank them enough. They are heroes.

"Not only did they take him from the fire, they brought him and his dog Stanley into the restaurant to keep him warm and dry and then brought us in there when we arrived.

"They went above and beyond everything and we will be forever grateful to them.

"The word heroes isn't even strong enough for what they have done for my daddy and our family. We are overwhelmed by their bravery and their kindness. Their families should be beyond proud of them.

"Daddy lost everything that he had. But it is just stuff.

"Him and his little dog came out of this relatively unscathed thanks to these boys and that is our own Christmas miracle."

It is believed that the blaze may have started in a cooker in the kitchen.

The Fire and Rescue Service were contacted for comment but had not replied at time of going to print.

Belfast Telegraph