Neighbours hailed as heroes by firefighters

Published: June 10, 2008 | 7145th good news item since 2003

FIREFIGHTERS today praised the actions of two hero neighbours who saved people’s lives in separate rescues.
Alan Coates sprung into action to save a family of three after a fire broke out at the side of their home in the early hours.

Wife Brenda spotted the blaze in the garden of the house in Stirling Avenue, Brockley Whins, South Shields.

Mr Coates, 50, raced across the road and banged on the door, waking the sleeping family, as the fire took hold.

Today Lucy Smith, 68, who was in the property with her disabled husband Robert, 73, and their son Alan, 40 thanked her quick-thinking neighbours.

She said: “We just thank him for getting us out in time. When we looked at it, it didn’t seem that much, but it was later when it registered it could have been a lot worse.

“We didn’t even know there was a fire. The first we knew was when someone was banging on the door.

“We had to get my husband down, as he is in a wheelchair. The man asked if he could help, but my son was already getting him ready.”

“We might not have been here today if it wasn’t for him across the road. I was glad he was there.”

The family had been asleep when the blaze broke out at the side of their home at about 3.20am yesterday.

It was spotted by Mrs Coates, 50, as she made a cup of tea in her kitchen after the couple had returned from a friend’s barbecue.

Mrs Coates said today: “I just saw the orange glow through the window, and when I looked out I saw there was a blaze at the side of the house.

“I phoned the fire brigade and told my husband to wake them up.

“The flames were licking the roof of the house. My husband said when he opened the door there was smoke in the house.”

Investigations are continuing into what caused the blaze.

Yesterday afternoon, another fire victim was rescued by his neighbour.

At around 4.05pm a woman jumped into action after hearing her neighbour’s smoke alarm sounding.

After going to investigate she found the back door of the property in Sycamore Avenue, Cleadon Park, South Shields, open, and the kitchen filled with smoke by a pan left on the hob.

Firefighters were called, and inside they discovered a man who had slipped into a diabetic coma.

Paramedics were alerted and managed to bring the man around.

Lee James, crew manager of blue watch at South Shields fire station, today praised both neighbours for their actions.

He said: “In the first incident two alarms had been fitted, but had been taken down.

“Luckily the fire was spotted by a neighbour who banged on the door and managed to wake the family up.

“If it wasn’t for him, it could have easily developed and been a lot worse.

“At the second incident the smoke alarm saved the man’s life because the neighbour heard it and phoned the fire brigade. It could have been a different story.

“Smoke alarms are vitally important as it is the smoke which kills.”

Published in Heroes
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