Dad, 37, describes how he saved young sons from raging house fire in Northampton and thanks community for support
"I just rushed in. I was not thinking clear at all. I didn't care about the danger, I just wanted my son out, that was the only thing in my head."
A father-of-two has described what it was like to rescue his family from their burning Northampton home and how they are coping now after the 'nightmare'.
Dragos Catalin's rented property in Birchfield Road was destroyed by a raging house fire on Sunday evening (November 28) at around 4pm, which had his two young, autistic sons - aged three and seven - and wife inside.
Four crews from Northampton Fire and Rescue Service were called to the blaze that left the house in ruin and the family hospitalised.Dragos, 37, said: "I got home from work and when I got out of the car I heard my wife screaming, so I rushed into the house. At that point she was getting my youngest boy out and she was hysterical. She couldn't get my eldest one.
"She took the youngest out into the back garden and rushed to the eldest upstairs, but then the little one ran after her into the house, so she started to panic.
"I got there and there was a lot of smoke coming out of the house. I was shocked because I didn't know what was going on.
"I just rushed in. I was not thinking clear at all. I didn't care about the danger, I just wanted my son out, that was the only thing in my head.
"The smoke was so dense, I couldn't breathe, so I took my jumper and put it over my face - the whole living room was in flames when I entered.
"I rushed upstairs to my boy, I saw his silhouette, went into his room and he was sitting on the edge of his bed so I grabbed him and got him out. I don't know how quick it was.
"In five minutes the whole house was ablaze, it was like nothing I have ever seen before. It was a shock."
Dragos and his wife Alina, 35, got their children to safety at a neighbour's home while they waited for the fire service to arrive.
"The boys were shocked and the little one was crying. He has a few burns on his hands, nothing major but he was crying," Dragos said.
"I was afraid the fire would spread to the neighbour's homes so I told the houses directly next to me to get out.
"The smoke was so dense the traffic stopped because they couldn't see through it.
"It was a nightmare. We were having a normal Sunday evening and all this happened in an instance."
The family were taken to Northampton General hospital where they stayed overnight and treated for smoke inhalation.
Dragos said: "We were taken to hospital. We are all very good now. The boys are laughing and playing again, that's the most important thing for me. My boy's hand is healing up too.
"Alina is better now. She was in shock, she couldn't help blame herself. She couldn't sleep for the first few nights but I said to her she has done a great job getting the boys safe."
In the days following the fire, the Abington community rallied together to help the family who had 'lost everything'.
Two online fundraising pages have been set up with thousands of pounds being raised so far, and many people have donated clothes, furniture and more.
Reflecting on the community spirit, Dragos added: "There is so much support out there for us. We don't have words to express our gratitude.
"We just want to thank the community, all the people who got involved to help, God bless them. I wish them all the best things in the world.
"All I want to say is they made it so much easier for us as a family to get through this.
"We will try to have a normal Christmas and are very thankful for what we have been donated to and provided for. We are very thankful for the fact that we went through this rough experience and got out alive.
"It's hard before Christmas but it's something we can live with. We have made some good friends from this experience - I think that's the good side of this story.
"The only things we lost are just that, things. They can be replaced.
"I am grateful we managed to save our family. We will recover from this, eventually."
The family said they are also grateful to Chelton Brown for sorting them out with a house to move into in the Abington area.
And finally, when told that he was a hero, Dragos said: "If is there is a hero in this family, that will be my wife. Both of my sons are autistic. Although it's hard to deal with the situation, she still manages to smile and take care of all of us."