Neighbour steps in to rescue family

By Connie Osborne Friday 17 January 2014 Updated: 21/01 18:33

A BRAVE neighbour who helped rescue a family from a house fire said he did not consider himself to be a hero.

Naheem Akhtar helped the family of three - named as Debbie, Steve and Aleshia Harding - as their kitchen went up in flames in Meadowhill Road, Riverside, about 7.10am on Sunday (January 12).

He told the Standard he had got in from work about 6am and had fallen asleep when his wife Rehana tried to wake him up.

“I was confused at first. I could hear this noise which must have been the smoke alarm but didn’t know what was going on. I ran outside and I saw Debbie and her daughter screaming from the bedroom window,” he said.

“I told them to stand back and rang 999. Then with the help of my wife and son-in-law, I went back through the house to get some ladders.”

The owner of Acorn Taxis had to carry the ladders through the house out to the front as he does not have side access to the garden.

“We got the ladders through and I put them up to the bedroom window and called to them to try and climb out. I was at the bottom and I just kept telling them it would be okay.”

He added he saw Steve on top of the garage after managing to get out of a landing window.

“He just couldn’t stop choking. The smoke was so bad. You could feel it hit you as soon as you stepped outside the house. I heard he is getting better and I’m so happy to hear it.

“I don’t want to be a hero, if it was anybody I would do that. They have helped me and my family a lot in the past, they are lovely neighbours.

“That is life, we should care for others and look after our friends, family and neighbours.”

Daughter Kirsty Windmill, who lives at a different address to her mother, step-dad and sister, said she could not thank Mr Akhtar enough and would never forget what he did for her family.

“If it wasn’t for the neighbours, God knows what would have happened. To go up to a house which had smoke billowing out of it is just amazing. The family are fantastic, thank you just doesn’t do it justice.”

A total of three fire engines were sent to the home where crews put out the blaze which is believed to have started due to an issue with the fridge.

Mick Cadman, North Worcester fire commander from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The family was alerted to the fire downstairs by a smoke alarm. They took immediate action and were assisted by neighbours.

“Without the smoke alarm this incident would probably have been very significant. Smoke alarms save lives.”

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Buy photos» Naheem Akhtar helped his next door neighbours escape a house fire. Picture by Marcus Mingins 0314021MMR

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