Neighbour braves blaze to rescue great-grandfather and pet dog from Felixstowe house fire

Firefighters clear charred furniture from the damaged house in Barton Road, Felixstowe. Picture: AND

Firefighters clear charred furniture from the damaged house in Barton Road, Felixstowe. Picture: ANDREW HIRST - Credit: Archant

A neighbour braved black smoke and flames to rescue a great-grandfather and his dog from a raging house fire in Suffolk.

Off-shore worker George Lowe was at home in Barton Road, Felixstowe, this morning when he was alerted by smoke coming from next door.

Stepping outside, he saw smoke billowing from the property and realised owner John French and his Labrador Abi had yet to escape.

“I just doubled back and grabbed my fire extinguisher from the kitchen,” said Mr Lowe. “I got about halfway up the stairs but had to come back down because the fire was out of control. It was far too smokey, I could hear debris falling and windows smashing.”

Mr Lowe found his neighbour in the downstairs dining area wrapped in a towel. “He was in complete and utter shock,” said Mr Lowe, 47. “I said ‘this is crazy, we’ve got to get out of here’ and we went out to the back garden.”

Abi followed the men out as flames took hold of the first floor and threatened to spread to the adjoining property.

Another neighbour took Mr French, 70, to a relative, who contacted his wife at work. He was taken to Felixstowe Community Hospital but was unharmed.

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One of his sons, Doug French, who also lives in the town, thanked Mr Lowe for his efforts.

“He tried to put out the flames and make sure my dad and his dog were OK,” he said. “We’re all very grateful for what he did.”

Mr Lowe, however, said “anyone would have done the same” and deferred praise to the firefighters.

Station commander Kev Oxford said Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service received several calls around 10.15am.

Two appliances from Felixstowe attended with one from Princes Street, Ipswich, joining soon after.

He praised group commander Mark Cooper and on-call Felixstowe firefighters for containing the blaze. “It was their swift actions and early intervention that prevented the fire developing through the rest of the house and neighbouring property,” Mr Oxford added.

The fire caused severe damage to the first floor, particularly the front bedroom where it began. However, the ground floor and neighbouring property were spared. Firefighters had the blaze tackled by 11.05am but remained on scene removing charred furnishings.

The cause of the fire will be investigated but is not thought suspicious.

UK Power Networks was called to isolate the electric supply.