Rescue of elderly woman and son from Northampton house fire 'nothing short of miraculous', says firefighter

The commander at the scene of the house fire at The Drive in Abington described the events as a "real Hail Mary evening."

Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 2:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 5:20 pm
The scene this morning at The Drive in Abington
The scene this morning at The Drive in Abington

Barry Mullan was speaking after five crews were called at 1am this morning to a massive fire that destroyed the roof of the house.

After going in, they were driven back on the landing and staircase by falling tiles and conducted searches of the house from outside.

Firefighters continued to douse the roof for some time and were beginning giving up hope when one of them spotted something at an upstairs window.

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Barry said: "It was the face of an old woman in a room we'd already looked in."

Two firefighters climbed up and secured her in case she collapsed and proceeded to take her out helped by police and ambulance crews.

But on their way to the ambulance the woman, who turned out to be 92, said her 62-year-old son had been in the same room.

By then, it was 45 minutes after they were called and firefighters feared the man may have been overcome by smoke or knocked out by debris.

Going up on an aerial platform, they floodlit the house but could only see piles of smashed roof tiles piled three feet high.

But then movement was spotted: "There he was in a small void. The roof timbers had fallen and formed a natural triangle that had protected him," said Mr Mullan.

"It was nothing short of miraculous. It was a real Hail Mary sort of evening."

A stretcher was taken to the son's protected position and he was given oxygen from a cylinder while he was dug out.

Further crew members went in wearing breathing apparatus and 10 members of the emergency services handled him down.

Mr Mullan said: "It was an exceptionally professional job done by all three 999 services. It was one terrific effort.

"He has been given excellent care."

And the miracles did not end there. The woman has two pet dogs and both were feared lost in the blaze.

But at this morning one of them that had run away was located by neighbours. And at 9am during the clean-up this morning, the second dog was also found "cowering" in an area of the house unaffected by the fire.

Mr Mullan said: "I'm on my way to the hospital to show the lady the photos we were able to take at the vet's.

"After last night, she needs something to cheer her up."