Neighbour hailed a hero by firefighters for saving man in Combe Martin fire
FIREFIGHTERS have hailed a man a hero after he entered a smoke-filled house to rescue his neighbour who was minutes away from death.
Simon Jewell, 47, was outside his house in Shackhayes, Combe Martin, on Friday morning when he saw smoke billowing from a nearby property in West Challacombe Lane.
He stopped what he was doing and ran to the house to help.
When he got there he found the property was completely filled with smoke, so much so he could not even see his hand in front of his face.
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“I saw smoke coming out the side of his house so I jumped in my car and drove round and went in the front door,” said Mr Jewell. “It was pretty obvious the house was on fire, it was filled with smoke.”
Mr Jewell rang the emergency services before entering the property and began feeling his way around the house when he heard someone shouting.
“I went in searching for Dave,” he said. “I could not see anything, nothing. Then I was shouting for him. I seemed to turn left first then I was bumbling around and then I felt the top of his head. He was literally sitting down drinking some water.
“He said ‘I think my tumble-dryer is on fire.’”
Mr Jewell said he helped the man up before getting him out of the property and walking him to the top of the lane.
He then went back into the property to shut the back door before going into the garage and turning off the electricity supply.
He said the back windows had already begun to melt by this point.
Fire officers from Combe Martin and Ilfracombe and an ambulance attended the scene to put out the fire.
It had started in a tumble-dryer in the property’s utility room and the occupant tried throwing water over it to put it out.
The fire continued and, as there were no batteries in the property’s fire alarm, it was due to Mr Jewell’s quick thinking that emergency services were alerted.
A spokesman for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “The service would like to praise the neighbour for his actions, which could have saved a man’s life.
“The service would also like to remind people to not put water on fires involving electrical appliances and to ensure you have working smoke alarms within your property.
“The cause of this fire is believed to be accidental.”
The property in West Challacombe Lane suffered 80 per cent smoke damage and the tumble-dryer was completely destroyed.
The man in the property was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and it is thought he would have been just minutes from death had it not been for Mr Jewell.
But he is keen to downplay his actions, saying: “I wouldn’t call myself a hero. I think anybody would have done the same.”