A quick-thinking motorist has been praised for his good sense in saving a woman from injury or even death in her smoke-logged home.
EDF energy account manager Michael Pattison, 34, was driving past Eleanor Smith’s home in Albany, Washington, earlier this month when he spotted smoke.
Instead of entering, Michael called to her to leave her home immediately and close the kitchen door to stop the fire spreading.
“There was so much smoke, it was hard to see properly inside the house,” he said.
“First I went round to the back door and shouted to see if anyone was inside.
“I heard Eleanor call for help, so I shouted to her to get out of the house and to shut the doors behind her to stop the fire spreading. I could just see Eleanor shut the kitchen door and so ran round to the front of the house, where she was coming out.”
Michael, who had recognised the risk from the toxic fumes, said: “I have a friend in the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and I remembered him telling him me how lethal smoke is in a fire, and that you should get out of the house straightaway,” he said.
“I’m glad my advice worked and Eleanor came out OK.”
The fire started after retired care home manager Eleanor moved her old microwave on to the hob of her electric oven to make space for a replacement. The mini cooker caught the “on” dial on the electric oven and both caught fire.
“I didn’t want my kitchen to get any further damaged so I tried to put the fire out myself,” she said.
“My first thought was to put the flames out and it didn’t seem such a difficult thing to do, but the fire was so much bigger than I initially thought. I didn’t realise the smoke would be that bad.”
Nicole Mordecai, watch manager in Community Safety for Sunderland, said: “Our advice if you have a fire is very simple – get out of the house immediately, stay out and dial 999.
“Even a small fire will generate noxious smoke which can overcome anyone in a house very, very quickly.”