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Rescue from Paignton flat fire 'involved all available resources'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 01, 2013

  • scene: Firefighters at the scene of the blaze in Merritt Road Paignton Torquil MacLeod TQTM20130125A-012_C

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FIREFIGHTERS who rescued a woman from her smoke-filled home have been praised for their efforts.

Wendy Saint, 53, was treated for smoke inhalation after being pulled from the third floor flat in Merritt Road, Paignton, by six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus.

Her dogs, Nipper, Blue, Rex and Tess were also rescued unharmed.

Husband Richard (pictured), an ex-firefighter, said: "I can't thank them enough. They have done a marvellous job and I will be giving a huge donation to the Firefighters' Benevolent Fund."

Wendy, a Torbay Council cleaner, was sleeping in a back bedroom when fire broke out in the lounge at the couple's home on Friday, January 25.

The fire alarm activated but Wendy was sound asleep after working a night shift.

Her son, Mark Johnson, who lives in the flat below, tried to reach his mother but was beaten back by the smoke and heat.

Two fire crews from Paignton were sent to the scene along with ambulance, police and the aerial platform fire appliance from Torquay.

Witness Robert Ross, 32, was walking back to Colin Road after dropping his children to school when he smelled smoke.

He said: "I looked up and saw smoke coming from the top window. I was worried for anyone who may be trapped inside."

Incident commander Nick Banks-Fey said the crews saw smoke pouring from the property on arrival.

Ambulance crews who arrived first on scene moved two butane Calor gas bottles from the outside of the property.

Mr Banks-Fey said: "When we arrived we could see smoke and were informed someone was in the building. Locating her was our priority so we sent in six firefighters. We quickly located her in a back bedroom which was, thankfully, unaffected by the fire and our crews lifted her to safety."

Mr Banks-Fey said the rescue involved all available resources in Paignton and Torquay.

The second full-time crew at Torquay is currently under review in new cost-cutting proposals by the fire authority.

It could be replaced by a retained crew which is feared could lead to slower response times.

Mr Banks-Fey said: "The response from Torquay was very quick.

"All of the available units from Paignton and Torquay took a full and active role in this incident and we used all of the breathing apparatus that were available."

He said that the fire is believed to have started in the lounge area and is not thought to be suspicious.

Mr Saint, an odd job man, was already out at work when the fire started.

He said: "My stepson called me and said there has been a fire, get here quick.

"Luckily, I was only in Winner Street.

"My wife was in a deep sleep because her shift starts at 11pm and she doesn't finish until 4am so it would have felt like the middle of the night for her.

"I'm an ex-fireman so I always make sure that the doors are shut. That definitely would have helped to contain the fire."

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