Halesworth: Woman, 90, tells of fire rescue drama

A 90-YEAR-OLD has told of her dramatic rescue after a blaze broke out at her home in the early hours of the morning.

Fire chiefs said the fast action of crews saved the life of Gladys Stewart, of Queens Close, Halesworth.

Firefighters were able to find the 90-year-old when they saw her hand pressed against the window of her conservatory.

The blaze, which is believed to have started in a circuit box, broke out around 4.30am yesterday.

Mrs Stewart, who has lived in her bungalow for nearly 25 years, was asleep at the time but woke up to hear the sound of her smoke alarm.

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She managed to make it to her conservatory before firefighters forced their way in and rescued her.

She was being looked after by her daughter-in-law, Helen, yesterday and is now staying with a neighbour.

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Mrs Stewart, who was treated at the scene by paramedics, said: “I was asleep when it started. I woke up and heard the smoke alarm. Fortunately I was able to get up OK. The firefighters had to smash open the door. I managed to get as far as the conservatory.

“The fire service were here very quickly. I can’t thank them enough.

“It is lucky I have good neighbours. They have given me all the help I could have wanted. The lady next door has been very kind and taken me in. It’s a lovely community.”

Steve Mableson, station manager for Waveney, said the quick actions of fire crews – and that a smoke alarm was fitted – had saved Mrs Stewart’s life.

He said smoke was “pouring out of every orifice” of the bungalow when a crew from Halesworth turned up, and the windows were blacked out.

“We got round the back and heard that someone was inside so we increased the number of appliances and ambulances called out,” he said.

“The woman was in great distress and was trying desperately to get out. The doors were locked and it appears she couldn’t find her keys.

“She was having difficulty breathing and we only realised where she was when we saw a hand pressed against the window of the conservatory.”

Mr Mableson said crews wearing breathing apparatus broke down the front door, found the woman and carried her to safety, breaking through rear double-glazed windows and doors to get out.

“I think the quick actions of the crew saved her life,” he said. “I have no doubt about that whatsoever. It really was touch and go.”

The fire chief said the incident showed the importance of fitting a smoke alarm. “Without that we would have been dealing with a fatality,” he said.

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