Heroes hailed by fire chief as man rescued from flat blaze

John Gentle at the door of dorr of the flat which was on fire. INLM2112-151gc
John Gentle at the door of dorr of the flat which was on fire. INLM2112-151gc

TWO young men have been hailed as heroes after a fire left another young man fighting for his life.

A man in his mid-20s was rescued by firefighters from a flat in Moyraverty after quick-thinking John Gentle and his neighbour Rikki Harvey raised the alarm.

Local fire chief, District Commander Victor Spence, said they did a ‘powerful job’.

“Their quick action probably helped save his life,” said the top fire fighter.

John, aged 40, had been visiting his sister and returned to the Moyraverty complex at around 5.30pm last Thursday. After a quick visit to the shop, he went to his flat upstairs and immediately smelt smoke.

He could hear the fire alarm blasting from his neighbour’s flat across the hall and tried to get in. Unable to get in, he then roused his other neighbour Rikki Harvey, aged 23.

Rikki looked through the letterbox and could see keys on the inside of the flat and soon realised there must be someone inside.

Rikki gave John his phone and he called the Fire Service.

“We checked through his letter box and could see the keys. We tried to batter down the door but there was a deadlock and there was no way we could get through,” said John.

“The Fire Brigade came straight away. We stayed back but I could hear the firemen shouting ‘there’s someone in here’.

“I knew then it was bad,” said John.

“It was scary. The Fire Brigade took the fella out of the flat. He was taking fits so we knew it was bad,” he said.

Rikki said he was lying on his sofa when he heard John rap on his door.

“I didn’t answer at the time as I was tired but then I heard him going up and down rapping on everybody’s door and thought I better find out what is going on.

“I lent John my phone to ring the Fire Brigade and I looked through the letterbox. I didn’t know if it was an empty flat but then I thought somebody must be in as there were keys on the inside of the door,” he said.

“We banged on the door. There was smoke fumes coming out and it smelled of rubber,” said Rikki.

The 23-year-old said the Fire Service went towards the Community Centre but they ran over and directed them to the flats.

“The fella was unconscious when they brought him out,” said Rikki.

Commander Spence said the fire was in the living room.

“His flat was heavily smoke logged,” said fire chief.

He explained that it was mostly the bedding that was on fire and that it had given off a lot of smoke.

He said they sledgehammered open the door and two fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus went into the flat and rescued the young man.

Commander Spence said the occupant was unconscious. Fire fighters administered first aid and oxygen to the young man who came to and was then taken to hospital by ambulance.

“Just as well the smoke alarms were working. It proved essential as people were alerted to the fire early and called for help,” said District Commander Spence.

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said: “A man in his mid 20s was rescued by firefighters and had to be resuscitated after a fire occurred in a flat in the Moyraverty area of Brownlow, Craigavon.

“The small fire in the living room was dealt with by crews wearing breathing apparatus using a hosereel jet. The man was taken to hospital by ambulance.

“Actuating smoke alarms had alerted neighbours who had called the Fire & Rescue Service,” said the spokesperson adding two appliances from Lurgan Fire Station and two from Portadown Fire Station attended the incident.

The incident was dealt with at 6.41pm and has been described as ‘accidental ignition’.

A spokesperson for Craigavon Area Hospital said the man is in a ‘stable condition’.