Dog is hero of the day in house blaze

LIFESAVING dog TJ is today being hailed as a hero after alerting neighbours to a blazing bungalow where an elderly man was trapped in his smoke filled house.

LIFESAVING dog TJ is today being hailed as a hero after alerting neighbours to a blazing bungalow where an elderly man was trapped in his smoke filled house.

Fred Warburton, who is in his 80s, was trapped in a house fire on Ashdown Way, Ipswich after a fire caught hold of his electric blanket at around 7pm yesterday.

Despite being walked at the other end of the street by his owner, TJ immediately sniffed out the danger and rushed to the scene of the fire – taking his owner with him.

His owner Lucy Ennis said: "We were walking along and half way up the road and he must have smelt the smoke and started pulling like mad. He went straight up Fred's drive and started barking.

"If it hadn't have been for TJ we wouldn't have known anything about it."

The fire filled the house with smoke within minutes, leaving Mr Warburton with no way out.

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Ms Ennis' fiancée, Paul, rushed to the scene of the fire to try and turn the power off but could not get past the smoke.

Ms Ennis immediately alerted the emergency services and within 20 minutes a team of RAF Green Goddess firefighters from Yarmouth Road and two breathing apparatus and rescue specialist teams were on scene.

They were forced to batter down the door to rescue Mr Warburton.

"They were brilliant and they got here so quickly," said Ms Ennis.

Mr Warburton was taken to Ipswich Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation but was said to be "fine" this morning. He told the Star today: "I'm fine – thank goodness."

His daughter was outside the house last night but was too busy to comment at length. "I'd just like to thank the RAF – they did a great job," she said.

Mr Todd, who tried to get into the house, said: "I went around straight away to get in and turn the power off but the smoke was too much. Fred is lucky to be alive really."

TJ, who was rescued by the couple from a dog sanctuary five years ago, has a keen nose for sniffing out danger and is constantly aware of the condition of smoke alarms.

Ms Ennis said: "When any smoke alarms go off he goes absolutely crazy and tries to alert everyone. We had a battery that kept pippin on our smoke alarm and TJ wouldn't stop barking. In the end we had to change the battery at about 3am."

Flying officer Mike Barclay said that the RAF firefighters did extremely well in dealing with incident – one of the most serious fires they have attended.

They doused the flames "within six or seven minutes", he said.

* LAST night's electric blanket fire that nearly claimed the life of an elderly pensioner comes just days after it was announced that one in three electric blankets are faulty.

The checks, carried out by trading standards and Suffolk Fire Service, showed that some of the blankets were so lethal that they had to be destroyed. Every year around 5,000 fires in the UK are caused by faulty electric blankets.

Peter Monk, a member of Suffolk County Council's executive committee, has been urging people to get their blankets checked.

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