A South Shields has been hailed a hero after rescuing a woman in her 70s from a house fire.
Alfredo ‘Alfie’ Romero was with work colleague Chris Ward when they came across the fire on the corner of Cooper Street and Horatio Street, in Sunderland, at 5.30am today.
The pair had just finished a night shift at ISS Security Services, and supervisor Alfie, 55, was dropping 31-year-old security guard Chris off home in Horatio Street.
They noticed flames coming from the chimney stack, and, concerned there may be somebody inside the adjoining property the pair banged on the door.
Inside, 71-year-old Mavis Steele was fast asleep upstairs, oblivious to the fire next door.
Grandad-of-one Alfie, who lives in South Shields, said: “I was dropping my colleague off in the street when we noticed flames coming from the chimney stack.
They have prevented a very severe fire from developing into something far worse, and spreading to neighbouring propertiesWatch manager Jez Hilton
“We jumped out of the car and had a look round the back and it was well ablaze.
“We alerted the fire brigade and were banging on the neighbour’s door to get them out in case the fire spread. We didn’t know if there would be an explosion.
“The lady next door was asleep in her bed. We woke her up and she was put in the back of an ambulance, suffering from smoke inhalation.
“The flames were horrendous and the smoke. She was coughing and spluttering.
“If it wasn’t for our quick reaction – if we hadn’t taken that way we did – that poor lady could have been dead with the smoke.”
Chris, a dad-of-three, said: “A lot of people said they could smell smoke but hadn’t noticed the fire.
“Me and Alfie went round the back and there were flames coming out of the chimney and smoke was coming through the roof.
“We got this lady out of the house and took her across the street.”
Speaking from a neighbour’s house, Mrs Steele said: “I heard a van and someone was banging on the front door.
“When I went to put my dressing gown on I could hear the smoke alarm going off next door.
“I put my dressing gown on and the place was full of smoke.
“I couldn’t breathe because the street was thick with smoke.”
Ms Steele said she has yet to find out if her home has been damaged by the blaze, as she has not been allowed back inside.
The shaken pensioner said she felt better after having a cup of tea and added that she doesn’t know what would have happened had Chris and Alfie not come to the rescue.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” she added.
Watch manager Jez Hilton, from Sunderland Central Fire Station praised the pair.
He said: “I’d like to thank Chris and Alfie for the speed of their actions.
“They alerted the fire service as soon as they knew there was something wrong.
In doing so they have prevented a very severe fire from developing into something far worse, and spreading to neighbouring properties.”
The Echo understands that fire investigators and scenes of crime officers are on the scene, while engineers are also assessing the structure of the building.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “At 5.46am this morning police were informed about a fire on the corner of Cooper Street and Horatio Street in Sunderland.
“It’s not believed anyone was in the property at the time and no-one has been seriously injured. Initial enquiries suggest there may be a cannabis farm inside.”
Mr Hilton said erlier: “We had two breathing apparatus wearers, two hose reels and a positive pressure ventilation fan.
“We deployed something called a Cobra, which uses very fine molecules of water which can penetrate brick and metal.
“We used that through the first floor ceiling.
“We carried out the main operation from outside and had two jets – one at the front and one at the back.
“It is an occupied property which was empty at the time.“The main fire was restricted to the roof space, but there is some fire damage to the first floor ceiling.”