Hero chef tells how he was forced to smash window to alert family that their Mile Cross home was on fire

Friends who raised the alarm about a fire on Mile Cross Road on Tuesday night. Left to right, Summer

Friends who raised the alarm about a fire on Mile Cross Road on Tuesday night. Left to right, Summer Sandford, Lacey Collier and Anya Tang.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A heroic chef has today spoken of the moment he was forced to smash a window to alert a family of five that their home was on fire.

House fire on Mile Cross Road, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

House fire on Mile Cross Road, Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Gene Cushing had been getting ready for bed when his step-daughter rushed into his room and told him the house opposite was burning. The 32-year-old immediately got dressed and ran across the road in a desperate bid to raise the alarm as the family were still inside. While the house on Mile Cross Road had been fitted with smoke alarms, they were not working at the time.

As Mr Cushing banged frantically on the front door of the property, he eventually put his fist through a glass panel to get their attention.

It was thanks to his actions that the two adults and three children inside were alerted and managed to escape.

Mr Cushing, who works at the Castle Carvery in Bowthorpe, said: 'I just did it, I didn't even think. I was hitting the front door and shouting that there was a fire and telling them to get out.

'I just kept hitting it harder and harder, and as I was banging on it, the glass smashed and a bloke came down. He just went 'my kids' and ran back in to get them.'

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Two adults, two boys and a girl, all in their pyjamas, made it out of the house before the fire service arrived and took shelter in Mr Cushing's home.

The family's three dogs were then rescued by firefighters.

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They were all taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

Mr Cushing said the family had since been around to his home to say thank you for saving them.

The flames inside the home were first noticed by Mr Cushing's step daughter Anya Tang, 17, along with her friends Lacey Collier, 16, and Summer Sandford, 17.

They had been walking back from a late night trip to McDonald's at around 11pm on Tuesday when they heard a loud pop and sound of glass breaking.

'We realised it was coming from the house opposite mine so we ran over,' Anya said.

That was when they spotted a television on upstairs.

Anya added: 'I know children live there so I rushed to get my step dad - that was when I saw the flames inside the house - it was so scary.'

The girls started shouting and banging in a desperate attempt to wake up the family and Summer called 999.

Summer said: 'Smoke was pouring out of the house - we knew they had to get out soon.'

Firefighters said that the fire was started by candles left unattended in a downstairs bathroom.

Although the house, in Mile Cross Road, had smoke alarms, they weren't working.

Mr Cushing's partner, Natasha Vincent, 39, said: 'I think Gene was heroic. He is my hero, bless him, and so is my daughter and her friends.

'If it had been a couple of minutes later it could have been much worse.'

Kevin Goodall, the cousin of one of the adults in the fire-hit house, rushed to the scene from his home a few doors down.

He said: 'I was shocked when I came home last night and saw the ambulances - I thought someone had had a car crash - and then a neighbour told me my cousin's house was on fire. I ran down there - I was a bit worried and thought something might have happened to the kids.

'They are all fine and the dogs are really well, so I'm happy about that. They're getting their life back together and hopefully they get to live back in the house again.'

The family were discharged from hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

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