Hero saves man, 92, from blaze that killed his elderly neighbour
- Credit: Liz Coates
A neighbour made three bids to save an elderly man from a blazing bungalow, before dashing next door and rescuing a 92-year-old from his smoke-filled bedroom.
Glenn Turner, 49, smelled burning as he sat at home in Chestnut Avenue, Bradwell, on Friday night.
He said he could hear the elderly man's voice above the roaring blaze as he battled to reach him.
The compliance engineer said he tried three times to enter the house, but was beaten back by the heat and thick black smoke, falling over on one occasion as he tried to reach him.
When he realised he could not save the resident, known to his neighbours as Joe, he smashed a window to enter the home next door where the 92-year-old man was asleep upstairs, his smoke alarms sounding and his bedroom rapidly filling with smoke.
He unlocked the door from the inside and took the man to safety.
"There is one tragic story but there could have been another," he said.
"If I am going to take any positive from it, it would be that."
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Mr Turner suffered cuts and scratches and was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.
"As soon as I knew I could not get into Joe's I went next door and there was already smoke in there.
"I have never seen anything like it before."
Christine Butcher, 58, said she was "heartbroken" to have lost her neighbour of 10 years in such traumatic circumstances, hailing the actions of Mr Turner who had been "an absolute hero".
She said his rescue attempts, including smashing the double glazing with a poker, all unfolded in the minutes before fire crews arrived.
She described how she looked on in desperation as emergency crews pulled the householder from his home and tried to revive him.
Her neighbour's beloved tabby cat also perished in the blaze.
Mrs Butcher, who works in office supplies, said she and her husband were watching a movie and at first thought all the shouting and commotion was going on in the film.
"It just breaks my heart every time I look over there," she said.
"Glenn was an absolute hero," she added. "He tried so hard. There was so much thick black smoke, he just couldn't find him yet he could hear him."
She described Joe as "a very frail gentleman" who, nevertheless, was determined to live independently, walking up to the shops and tackling the garden.
He doted on his house cat, which was kept indoors, and was always keen to look after her animals when the family went away.
In the days before the fire he had come home from hospital after suffering a leg injury which became infected, she said.
"It was so quick, and so devastating, and so sad," she said.
"I always found him to be a really nice man. We never had a cross word. He used to help us out looking after the cats, but we never felt we were putting on him because he loved them."
On Monday (July 12) the house was boarded up, with police tape across the drive.
Flowers have been left at the scene.
A single piece of police tape flutters across the drive of number 43.
All its windows are boarded up, the plastic guttering sagging and warped, attesting to the ferocity of the blaze.
The victim was said to love his home, having moved up from London around a decade ago.
A neighbour who had been feeding his cat while he was in hospital said there was evidence he had been going through his things and looking out old photographs in the days before the tragedy.
Four fire crews from Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Acle and Lowestoft were called at just after 11pm on Friday (July 9) along with police and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.
A statement from Norfolk Police said: "Enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the fire and events leading up to it. The death is still being treated as unexplained and a post mortem examination is due to take place tomorrow."