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Hero rescues children from fire

PUBLISHED: 09:45 19 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:05 03 July 2010

A mother has hailed the bravery of her neighbour who climbed up a ladder to rescue her three children from a burning house.

Emotional Lisa Whitehead said her young children would have died if Alan Roe had not been around to pluck them to safety as smoke and flames engulfed the upstairs of the house in Newport Road, Hemsby.

A mother has hailed the bravery of her neighbour who climbed up a ladder to rescue her three children from a burning house.

Emotional Lisa Whitehead said her young children would have died if Alan Roe had not been around to pluck them to safety as smoke and flames engulfed the upstairs of the house in Newport Road, Hemsby.

Builder Mr Roe, 34, was alerted to the unfolding drama during the early hours of Saturday and grabbed a ladder from his garden to allow him to get to the children trapped in a first-floor bedroom.

He then pulled Matthew, five, Hannah, four, and Katie, 10 months, through a small hole in the window and passed them to his fiancée and another neighbour.

Mrs Whitehead, 26, said: “I owe him so much. He saved my babies. The fire brigade said that if it wasn't for Alan my kids wouldn't be here now.

“I haven't known him for long, but I can't describe how I feel about him; he saved my kids' lives.”

The fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, started in the attic of the house at just before 2.45am. It set off smoke alarms and Mrs Whitehead's sister, who was sleeping on a sofa downstairs, raised the alarm.

Flames quickly spread through the roof and ceiling, meaning the only way out for Mrs Whitehead and her children was through an upstairs window.

The hole in the front bedroom window was too small for Mrs Whitehead to get through but, after making sure her children had been safely evacuated, she managed to get to a back bedroom where she was rescued by firefighters.

Father-of-two Mr Roe said: “I pulled the children out one by one. It was just a natural reaction to get them to safety. I was just relying on adrenalin and not really thinking about what I was doing.

“I wouldn't class what I did as bravery. I've got children of my own and I just did what I could to get them to safety. The kids were relatively calm when they came into my arms, but then they got a bit stressed. It went as smoothly as can be expected in the situation.”

Mrs Whitehead's 17-year-old sister Kristy Hoare rushed outside to raise the alarm after being beaten back by the flames.

“I tried to get upstairs, but the flames were coming through the roof and I could hear the kids screaming,” she said.

The fire caused extensive damage to the upstairs of the house and left a huge hold in the roof, meaning the family will have to stay with Mrs Whitehead's mother for the time being.

Mrs Whitehead's children had been sleeping the same room as her while husband Daniel worked on a night shift.


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