A son has been hailed a hero by the fire and rescue service after rescuing his frail father from a house fire. Gary Young has been praised by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) for the saving the life of his 92-year-old dad, John, last month.
Gary received a middle-of-the-night call from his dad after the smoke alarm activated at his bungalow just down the road. Instantly, he knew something was wrong and raced to the frail pensioner’s aid. John had put a neck warmer in his microwave and forgotten about it, causing his bungalow to fill with smoke as the warmer caught alight.
The grandfather-of-six couldn’t find his keys, but some quick thinking saw him open his kitchen window to get some fresh air. When Gary arrived minutes later, TWFRS crews were already on their way, but the concerned son couldn’t wait. He jumped through the living room window to try and help his dad find his keys, but the bungalow was so black with smoke he couldn’t see a thing. After a minute or so searching, Gary decided to just get John out of the bungalow to save them both.
As Gary began to boost John out the window, he was met by fire crews who assisted them both to safety after entering the property to deal with the fire.
The fire was contained to the microwave but has caused significant smoke damage to the property requiring John to be re-homed.
A senior firefighter at TWFRS has hailed Gary a hero for his quick-thinking actions and said his father could have been seriously injured or worse if not for his intervention.
Taking care with alternative heating sources
Area Manager for Community Safety Richie Rickaby is urging members of the public to take care when trying to find alternative ways to stay warm during this winter and ensure they have an effective escape plan at night, in the event of a fire.
He says heat pads, electric heaters, and candles all pose potential fire risks if not used correctly and has urged family and friends to be vigilant when vulnerable people are using alternative means of keeping warm.
Area Manager Richie Rickaby said:
“What Gary did was incredible and there is a very good chance that he saved his father’s life that day. We would never advise anyone to enter a burning building but Gary showed incredible bravery and should be proud of his actions.
“This is an opportunity to praise his actions but also to highlight the dangers of alternative heating methods this winter “The clocks went back a few weeks ago and we know people are feeling the pinch of the energy crisis.
“There is nothing wrong with alternative heating sources but people need to take extra care, read the instructions and follow them carefully. Heat pads like all combustible items can be dangerous if introduced to a heat source and on this occasion John made an innocent mistake by leaving it in the microwave too long.
“We would ask people to look out for family members, relatives, and neighbours in the same way Gary has. Make sure plug sockets aren’t being overloaded, electric heaters aren’t being covered and candles are in safe positions, away from combustible materials.
“Remember if there is a fire in your home, close the door, get out and stay out, and call 999 – let us deal with it.”
Gary Young is thanking the firefighters who helped save not just his dad but him and warning others about the dangers of alternative heating devices.
“I was so scared, I knew instantly there was something wrong and I left in such a panic that I left my key at home. When I turned up you could see the smoke bellowing out of my dad bungalow, thankfully he got that window open to breathe some fresh air.
“I didn’t think twice about forcing the window more open and jumping in to try and help, I thought he might have just missed his keys in a panic but I also couldn’t see them.
“The fire service turned up with the ambulance at the right time to help me get my dad out and then help me out. I’m so thankful they were able to help us before it got any worse.
“My dad was just trying to stay warm but he struggled to use his digital microwave and just an extra few taps on the timer left him in an unthinkable situation – it was so scary.”
John and Gary have thankfully made a full recovery and John is now waiting to be rehomed in a new place hopefully not too far from Gary.