Bobbies rescue couple from burning pub

Two quick-thinking policemen have been praised for their bravery after rescuing a couple from a burning pub.

Two quick-thinking police-men have been praised for their bravery after rescuing a couple from a burning pub.

Ex-Norwich City footballer PC Greig Shepherd and PC Alan Wootton struggled through thick, acrid smoke to reach a stranded couple.

The officers were driving back past the Recruiting Sergeant pub at Horstead, near Coltishall, at 3.24am, when they noticed flames flickering in a window.

PC Shepherd, 46, said: "Our first thought was that people would be sleeping in the flat above the pub. And we were immediately concerned for their safety.

"So we pulled over, called for back-up, and started banging on windows and doors trying to wake them up, which took a while."

Chef Chris Chenery, 24, who was with waitress girlfriend Emily White, 20, threw the keys down to the officers so they could let themselves in.

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PC Wootton, 41, said: "I climbed the stairs of the flat to try and find the couple.

"The fire was coming out of the door on one side of the stairs and on the other was a corridor leading to the people so it was pretty smoky.

"I remember coughing a lot. When I found the man he was eager to get out but the girl wasn't so keen. I tried to talk her around but she seemed to think staying in the room was a better idea.

"We took him out and when we tried to go back for her the smoke was just so much worse, it was impossible.

"Fire suddenly makes you feel very fragile and aware that you really shouldn't be there."

PC Shepherd said: "The second time we tried to get back in, you could hardly see, let alone breathe. Plastics were burning. There was a very toxic, acrid smell."

Having failed to reach Miss White the pair of policemen stood outside and tried to calm her down by chatting away as they waited for fire crews to arrive and rescue her from the window using a ladder.

Afterwards she said: "I'm really grateful to police who saw the smoke and firefighters who rescued me."

A faulty transformer connected to the pub's outdoor Christmas lights, which were still up, is believed to have started the fire early on Sunday morning.

But the business has been unaffected by the fire and is still following usual opening times.

A spokesman for Norfolk Fire Service said: "The actions of police in spotting the smoke coming from the building and getting to the building quickly potentially saved the lives of the occupants."

But despite the lashings of praise heaped upon them, the pair remain modest. Even though he was treated for smoke inhalation, PC Wootton insisted on finishing his shift. He said: "I'm sure people with barbecues have suffered much worse smoke inhalation than I did. It's not the scariest experience I've ever had. I find people can be a lot scarier than fire."