Sunderland family thank brave rescuers after they are saved from house fire

A family who fled their burning home have thanked the brave rescuers who saved their lives.

Friday, 28th December 2018, 12:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 9:01 pm
Paul and Lynda Russell with grandaughter Millie Pearson at their Portchester Road home the day after the fire.

Paul and Lynda Russell, both 57, granddaughter Millie Pearson, nine, their son Robert, 29, his girlfriend Leah Cormack, 19, who is more than four months pregnant, were inside the semi-detached house in Portchester Road, Pennywell last night when the blaze broke out in the garage.

It was down to the quick thinking of a passing driver who spotted the flames rising from the property, pulled over and banged on their front window to raise the alarm, and other local residents who joined in with the rescue effort that they escaped without major injury.

Paul and Lynda Russell with grandaughter Millie Pearson at their Portchester Road home the day after the fire.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Robert remained in hospital today after he severed a tendon in his hand and was left with glass in his foot after he and Leah had to be helped down from the roof of their front porch.

Robert had used an iron to smash out the first floor window so he and Leah could climb onto the porch roof, while his parents, Millie and the family’s cocker spaniel Olly were able to escape out of the front door.

Today, as the family are left in just the clothes they were wearing, they have begun to gather their belongings and await news of repairs to their home.

But they have sent their huge thanks to those who helped save their lives and ensured the blaze was reported to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service within minutes.

The aftermath of the fire at in Portchester Road, Pennywell.

Inquiries are under way to establish the case of the fire at the house, which has been the family home for 28 years.

Lynda, who is a store manager and is a member of Ryhope Model Club, said: “We came outside and somebody was on top of the porch and he had Leah on his shoulders and passed her down to others and then helped Robert.

“The neighbours called the fire service, because we didn’t have our phones with us.

“We want to thank people from the bottom of our hearts, to the neighbours and people who we don’t even know, for what they did for us.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service returned to the estate the morning after the blaze to carry out home fire safety checks.

“If it had happened later and we had been in bed, it could have been a different situation.

“Two or three people stopped and helped Robert and Leah out.

“It just shows there is a community out there and they are looking out for you.”

Paul, a construction supervisor, said: “At 7.30pm, I had been in to do some work on my remote control models and by 8.15pm I hadn’t even opened my can of beer when we heard a bang on the window and we just thought it was a pizza delivery.

It is believed the fire started in the garage.

“Our neighbours took us in and looked after us until 4.30am this morning.

“We can’t thank everybody enough.

“The number of people who have stopped to ask how we are, it’s unbelievable.

“My phone’s not stopped with people ringing and sending messages.”

One 50-year-old neighbour who helped in the rescue, but asked not to be named, said: “I saw the smoke and ran round.

“It started in the garage by the sounds of it and people helped get the two down from the roof.

“The fire brigade were here within minutes thankfully.

“If it had happened later, it would have been a lot worse.”

A 50-year-old woman who lives nearby added: “I heard smashing glass and I thought it was someone putting bottles in the bin, but then my husband and said that house was on fire.

“We’re so pleased everyone’s ok, they’re a lovely family.”

Four appliances, including those from Washington and North Moor Fire Stations, were called to deal with the incident.

The service returned to the street and neighbouring roads to carry out a ‘hot strike’ with officers ensuring all properties have working smoke alarms.

To find out more about the checks, visit