Horsham St Faith grandfather hailed a hero after rescuing neighbour from fire
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
A 68-year-old grandfather has been hailed a hero after he rescued an elderly neighbour from a fire-ravaged bungalow at a sheltered housing complex.
Retired landscape gardener Gerry Mitson rushed into action when he saw flames and smoke coming from a neighbour's property.
The man living there, who has been named as Cyril Oswick and is believed to be aged about 90, was screaming for help from inside the bungalow, but was too confused to open his front door and escape the flames.
Mr Mitson ran to the bungalow and helped him open the door, before escorting him outside away from the blazing building.
Mr Oswick, who has a walking frame, was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
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The fire occurred at about 7pm on Thursday, at The Warren in Horsham St Faith. Mr Oswick is still believed to be in hospital today.
Mr Mitson, who has seven grandchildren, said: 'I'm not a hero; it was just instinct, but I have been told I did pretty well.
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'And if I had not seen the flames then he would have died. His two parakeets died inside the bungalow.'
Mr Mitson said he was just pulling the blinds at his home when he saw flames coming from the bungalow opposite.
He said: 'I asked my partner, Becky Bryant, to phone the fire brigade, and I ran outside barefoot.
'I knew there was a disabled, elderly gent living there. The front door was locked and I could not get in.
'The man inside was shouting, but was a bit incoherent. He managed to get to the front door using his walking frame and turn the knob to unlock it.
'I helped him open the front door and black smoke came out. He tried to go back in and put it out, but I told him not to, as the smoke was too thick and his electric armchair was on fire. He wanted to save his pet birds.
'He managed to get up to the garden path and I asked a neighbour to bring out a seat for him to sit on. We then waited for the ambulance.'
Mr Mitson said he suffers from lung problems and was also feeling unwell as he had been inhaling toxic fumes. He visited his GP yesterday because of the problems.
Fire crews from Earlham and Sprowston had attended, and Peter Rowe, station manager at Sprowston fire station, afterwards praised the actions of Mr Mitson. He said his heroic actions had 'the biggest impact on the safe conclusion of this incident'.'
Mr Rowe said the bungalow was heavily smoke damaged with some fire damage and would be uninhabitable for several weeks.
He said the fire started in Mr Oswick's electric armchair, which was burned out and left outside the property yesterday. However, he said it was too early to say how the fire started.
Allyson Kay, managing director at Centra Support, which runs the sheltered complex, said: 'We are all doing what we can to support Mr Oswick and his family and are working with the emergency services to investigate what caused the fire.'
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