Neighbours praised over fire alarm

A father and son were last night hailed as heroes by a Dereham family describing their horror at seeing their home in flames.

A father and son were last night hailed as heroes by a Dereham family describing their horror at seeing their home in flames.

Jamie Irons, 12, was riding his bicycle when he spotted smoke coming from the Beaneys' house in Dunlop Road and raised the alarm - and his father Neil helped to get the family to safety and stop the fire spreading.

Wendy Beaney, 42, and children Sam, 10, and Hannah, nine, were downstairs when the fire started in Hannah's bedroom just before 5.30pm on Saturday, oblivious to what was happening upstairs.

Mrs Beaney said last night: "It is very scary to think we were inside and we had no idea the fire had started - and what would have happened if Hannah had been in her room? I am just glad we are all okay.

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"Our neighbours were fantastic."

Sam said: "I was feeding the dog when I heard popping noises. Then I saw the smoke and I shouted 'fire - get out.' It was scary. I was petrified."

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Mr Irons helped get Mrs Beaney and her children out of the building, before running back inside to rescue their dog Domino from the kitchen.

Everyone was safe by the time two Dereham fire crews arrived, guided by Jamie, but the families watched in shock as flames lapped from Hannah's bedroom window.

The fire, believed to have been caused by an electric lamp, was put out just before 6pm.

The Beaneys, who are now staying at a guest house in the town, said the blaze may have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage - with Hannah's room virtually destroyed and heavy smoke damage to the rest of the first floor.

Hannah added: "I was shocked to see my room after the fire. All my stuff has gone - my TV, keyboard, my teddies and toys, and my mobile phone. But as somebody told me, things do not matter but people's lives do."

Mrs Beaney's husband Adam was working in Wiltshire at the time but Mr Irons, who went back into the burning building for a third time to retrieve property, reassured him by telephone that his family were fine.

"I cannot thank Neil and his son enough for how they have helped us," Mr Beaney said yesterday.

"We have worked very hard for our home but the important thing is that Wendy and the children are okay."

Mr Irons said he was very proud of his son for raising the alarm.

Dereham crew manager Neil Richardson praised the families for their actions which he said stopped the fire from potentially being far worse.

He advised people to check their smoke detectors every week, and added that keeping doors shut could also stop the spread of fire.

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