A band of heroic teenagers have been praised by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service after their quick-thinking actions helped save an elderly woman from a kitchen fire in Seaview yesterday evening (Wednesday).
The group of 5 friends, who earlier this week travelled to the Isle of Wight from Farnham to visit a relative, had been out enjoying dinner and a walk along the beach to make the most of the Island’s scenery on the last evening of their trip. What they hadn’t expected amongst the sea, sun and sandy beaches was to come across what could have become a tragic incident.
Sacha Hewson, Mark Meyer, Izzy Meade, Matt Pritchard, and Elliott Brown – all aged between 16 and 18 – had left Seagrove Bay at around 21:30 before taking a leisurely stroll back to their grandmothers, walking via Gully Road and Solent View Road. It was when they reached the junction of Rowantree Drive and Caws Avenue that their evening took an unexpected turn.
An eagle-eyed member of the group stopped in their tracks when they noticed smoke beginning to wisp from the front door of the home of a 97-year-old woman. Without hesitation, the teens realised something was amiss and that they needed to act.
After banging on the front door of the detached bungalow, several of the group made entry to the home and began to shout out in order to alert and locate anyone within the property. They swiftly located an elderly woman who was seemingly unaware of the developing incident in her kitchen.
Member of the group, Sascha Hewson, told Island Echo:
“We were walking back from the beach and walked past the lady’s house and we noticed there was smoke filtering of the front door. We went into her house and started calling out for anyone inside to make them aware of what was happening.
“We found the lady, who is very hard of hearing, and she was unaware of the fire alarm and the smoke and didn’t know what was happening.”
Meanwhile, Mark Meyer made his way to the source of the rapidly developing smoke in the kitchen, which he discovered to be coming from a microwave.
Mark, knowing the consequences of putting water on an electrical fire, quickly unplugged the appliance before opening it and using water from a nearby kettle to douse the smoldering heat pack inside, before removing the microwave from the property.
The teens proceeded to open windows and doors to vent the smoke, whilst others used an address book to try and contact the relatives of the woman, who was in a state of confusion. After much trying, they eventually got through to a relative who arrived at the scene shortly after.
It was Izzy Meade that made the decision to call an ambulance after realising that the woman could be in a state of shock and may have been suffering from exposure to the smoke. A paramedic crew from the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service attended the property, with the control room then contacting the Fire Service. A fire appliance from Ryde was mobilised to the scene shortly after.
The woman was taken to St Mary’s Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation but has now thankfully returned home with no injuries.
Firefighters left the scene at 22:47 and returned this morning (Thursday) to conduct a safe and well check to ensure the woman’s ongoing safety.
HIWFRS Group Manager Jeff Walls said:
“The early action taken by members of the public prevented this incident becoming more serious.
“Whilst we would warn against the public putting themselves in harms way, the quick-thinking on this occasion stopped the fire from developing, allowing the occupant to evacuate and escape conditions which could have deteriorated and become challenging for crews.”
“Across Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, we help people to stay safe in their own homes through our prevention activities and community safety initiatives such as our Safe and Well service.
“Safe and Well is a free home fire safety visit, tailored to an individual’s needs that can support the most vulnerable residents to help protect them and their home from fire.”
Positioning, maintaining and testing smoke detectors in your home could save your life. For vital safety information about how to keep you and your family safe visit https://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/safety/home-safe-home/smoke-alarms.
Did you know the majority of house fires occur in the kitchen? For safety information concerning cooking and kitchen appliances visit https://www.hantsfire.gov.uk/keeping-safe/loveyourhome/firehazards/kitchen/.