News

Taxi driver saves man from Newtownstewart blaze

Thursday, 15 February 2018

AN heroic life-saving taxi driver acted in a 'swift manner' - which has been praised by the Fire Service - to rescue an elderly man from his burning home in Newtownstewart at the weekend.

The unsung hero, who modestly does not wish to be named, told the Tyrone Constitution he was driving past the house of the 69-year-old man on Saturday after 9pm when he noticed the property at Millbrook Lane engulfed in flames.

"I immediately called the emergency services," he recalled. "I know the resident and knew he would be inside the house. There was no sign of the Fire Brigade and I knew I had to do something otherwise he would have died. So I went in - it was the natural thing to do. I couldn't see in front of me with the smoke, but I managed to grab him by the arms and lead him out to safety.

"The firefighters said I saved his life. If I hadn't been driving past we could have been looking at a much worse result."

Remarkably the taxi driver carried on with his work that night after his heroic actions!

A Housing Executive spokesperson confirmed there was smoke damage to the living room and hallway.

 

"The tenant is staying with relatives until repairs have been carried out."

 

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service confirmed an elderly man was led to safety from a property at Millbrook Lane after a fire which was reported at 9.25pm.

 

It has also been revealed that a home fire safety check was carried out at the man's house only the week before the incident and had fitted a smoke alarm as the existing one was not working.

"Three fire appliances attended the incident - two from Strabane Fire Station and one from Newtownstewart Fire Station," Western Area, assistant group commander, Tommy Barr, explained. "Fire crews encountered a fire in the living room of a mid-terrace bungalow. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the fire.

"A 69-year-old man was out of the property before the arrival of firefighters having been led to safety by a passing taxi driver. He was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation by firefighters using a microvent before the arrival of ambulance personnel."

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental and the incident was dealt with by 10.19pm, Mr Barr confirmed.

He continued: "A working smoke alarm alerted the 69-year-old man to the fire. Newtownstewart fire crews had carried out a home fire safety check at the man's home the week before the incident and had fitted a smoke alarm as the existing one was not working. This incident demonstrates the importance of having a working smoke alarm and how our home fire safety checks can help keep older people safe from the fire."

The NIFRS offer free Home Fire Safety Checks to those most at risk from fire - people aged 60 or over, anyone who has a disability or impaired mobility impaired or those receiving help from an agency for everyday tasks.

"Firefighters will install or check that smoke alarms are working, help to identify any obvious dangers and advise on an escape plan," Mr Barr continued. "If you are worried about the fire safety of someone in your community you can register them for a free home fire safety check by visiting our website nifrs.org or call 028 9266 4221.

"We would also like to commend the swift actions of the passing taxi driver who stopped to help and to remind everyone that if you encounter a fire in your home our advice is Get Out, Stay Out and Get the Fire Service Out."

It is understood the elderly resident was treated at Altnagelvin Hospital before being later released.

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