Heroic neighbour saves man from house blaze
A HERO neighbour saved a sleeping man from his smoke-filled house.
Tom Calderbank, 42, was unaware a fire had broken out in the house he shares in Beaford with Mike Williamson.
Luckily neighbour Richard Pedrick, known as JR, was out walking his dogs.
Richard said: "I couldn't sleep, so I got up early to walk the dogs. I heard a fire alarm and started running down the lane.
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"I saw smoke coming from Tom and Mike's house and shouted to my partner to ring 999.
"I thought something wasn't right when I shouted and didn't get a reply. I knocked the door down. Tom had fallen asleep on the couch."
Richard grabbed hold of Tom, dragging him from the property in Canns Down Cottages.
Richard said: "I did what I had to do. Something kicked in.
"Now, we have a joke and laugh about what happened. Tom is grateful."
Tom was in such a deep sleep that he did not hear the smoke alarm.
He said: "I remember JR barging through the front door and dragging me out the house.
"I thought I was getting robbed."
Tom then ran back into the kitchen to tackle the fire.
"There was so much smoke, all the plastic from the fan had melted on top of the cooker. The flames got bigger. The amount of black smoke was unreal.
"I grabbed a towel out of the wash basket, soaked it in the kitchen sink and smothered the fire.
"I had to get out. I was half choking because of the smoke. It all happened in a flash. I was coughing outside and was sick. I think I was in shock more than anything."
Fire crews gave Tom an oxygen mask which he said made me feel better.
He was offered an ambulance and further medical help which he refused.
He phoned his housemate Mike.
Mike, 54, who was working when the fire broke out, said he was relived to find Tom safe.
He said: "I was shocked. To think my mate was inside. Things in the building can be replaced, but of course, a life can't.
"I am sure JR went into the house without thought for himself because he just wanted to get Tom out.
"We told JR what he did was brilliant, he is a lifesaver. Also, thanks to the fire service for being so prompt and efficient."
Tom said he would always remember the heroic actions of his neighbour.
He said: "If JR hadn't rescued me I would be dead. I would definitely have gone with the smoke.
"It takes a certain person to do that, he could have stayed outside. He is one of the best, he saved my life, there are no two ways about it.
"I will be forever in his debt."
Three fire engines from Chulmleigh, Hatherleigh and Bideford attended the fire on August 25, which was caused by an electrical fault in the cooker fan.