Video: Hero dad saves family and dogs from fire

HE'S our Superman!Paula Irvine has today hailed the bravery of her hero husband after he pulled his children and nine dogs - including seven new born pups - to safety as fire tore through their home.

Tom Potter

HE'S our Superman!

Paula Irvine has today hailed the bravery of her hero husband after he pulled his children and nine dogs - including seven new born pups - to safety as fire tore through their home.

Mrs Irvine revealed how husband James, wearing just a Superman t-shirt, fearlessly dashed through a burning doorway to save her and the pups after bravely trying to tackle the blaze before fire crews arrived.


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She said: “The fire service said that if James had slept two minutes longer, they would have been pulling out bodies. He saved us all.”

The dramatic deed came just three years after a serious car crash left Mr Irvine of Poplar Hill, Stowmarket in a coma, fighting for his own life.

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The 32-year-old was given a five percent chance of surviving after a head-on crash with a lorry in February 2006, on the A120 at Coggeshall. But by the end of the year he was back to work following a miraculous recovery.

But he faced yet another life threatening situation when fire broke out at the Irvine's home last Tuesday after an extinguished candle reignited in the early hours of the morning and set a flammable Christmas decoration alight, causing a blaze which quickly engulfed the living room.

Mr Irvine said: “I woke up to hear a sound that I knew shouldn't have been there. When I reached the door at the bottom of the stairs I could hear a loud crackling which turned into an intense roar when I opened it. I didn't really feel the heat at that time because I think I was running on adrenaline.”

After tackling the flames with bowls of washing up water, he woke his wife who was sleeping in the conservatory with their dog Willow and the seven newborn pups before dashing upstairs to rescue his two sleeping children and then made a third rescue to get the dogs out of the house.

Amazingly, once the dogs were safely in the family car, Mr Irvine again set about tackling the fire.

He said: “I was on my hands and knees as low as I could get, trying to take in clean breaths of air. My left foot got quite badly burnt and blistered and I wasn't able to walk on it for some time. I also singed a bit of hair - not that I had any to begin with!”

Little Joseph, three, who watched as his dad braved the fire and save the family home from further destruction, said: “He was a real hero! I saw the fire was big when he was pulling me away from the house - and he put it out with buckets of water!”

Mrs Irvine, 34, praised the courage her children displayed as the drama unfolded around them, saying: “The kids were brilliant. We got them down to the shed and wrapped them up in blankets because they were getting a bit panicky. We told them it was all an adventure - and that's how they treated it.

“I was just grateful their bedrooms hadn't been touched, but the most upsetting thing was the toys and pile of their clothes that went up. I was quite teary for a few days but then I was just grateful we were all alright.”

The family spent Christmas in Newport, Essex, with Mr Irvine's mother and father, Trisha and Alan, who also took in the nine dogs until the house in Stowmarket was safe to move back into.

Neighbours Melvin and Rita Offord, who had looked after Joseph and Lottie on the morning of the fire, also tended to their family's chickens while they were away from home.

What do you think of Mr Irvine's bravery Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED:-

3.30am - Mr Irvine is woken by the sound of the fire below him.

Wearing only the Superman T-shirt he had been sleeping in he decides to fight the blaze.

Unable to access a fire extinguisher which was in a cupboard under the stairs he decides to fetch a washing up bowl of water from the kitchen and sets about fighting the flames.

The heat from the fire is so intense it melts the smoke alarm in the living room.

After several return journeys with the washing up bowl, Mr Irvine douses a large area of the fire and hurries to rescue his family before the fire overwhelms him.

He rushes to the conservatory through a burning doorframe to wake his wife who was sleeping alongside the seven newborn puppies and their mother Willow.

He then bravely fights his way back through the living room and upstairs to where his children slept.

Taking four-year-old Joseph and three-year-old Lottie under his arms, he heroically carts them outside to safety before

returning to the house for a third dramatic rescue - this time to fetch Great Dane Blitz and the other eight dogs caught in the blaze, not to mention the children's favourite stuffed toys; Tigger, Larry and bunny.

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