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April 17, 2003

Deaf woman rescued in fire drama

From: East Anglian Daily Times, UK - Apr 17, 2003


FIREFIGHTERS have paid tribute to quick thinking neighbours who smashed down a door to help an 87-year-old deaf woman trapped above a blazing flat.

A crew of 12 spent more than an hour tackling flames at the four-storey Victoria House building in Victoria Street, Harwich, after neighbours reported people trapped inside just after 11.30pm on Wednesday night.

The woman was led to safety, while a 35-year-old man also suffered cuts to his arms, hands and face after escaping through a basement flat window where the fire broke out.

Yesterday, the rescued woman's daughter, Cynthia Thornhill, also of Victoria Street, said her mother was fine and thanked those involved in the rescue.

"I heard all this noise outside like fireworks and I looked out and saw the fire engines outside her flat.

"I had spoken to her about half an hour before but then when I saw the drama my heart was in my mouth.

"I don't know who it was that rescued her but as I arrived a woman who had been passing by was looking after her. She is ok now - there is nothing wrong," she said.

Firefighters from Dovercourt administered first aid to the man who was coughing from smoke inhalation and he was later taken to hospital.

Neighbours told the fire crew they had seen the fire start and rushed to kick down the door before smoke and flames spread.

A spokesman for the fire service said: "The neighbours who kicked the old woman's door down did very well. Smoke would have put her in danger."

The fire is believed to have started in a cooker.

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