A firefighter from Long Melford has been described as a ‘hero’ after rescuing a woman from a burning building in Sudbury last night (September 6).
Pat Ince was called “the hero of the hour” by his station commander Conrad Burgess for climbing a ladder to rescue a woman from the second floor of a burning building in Friars Street, Sudbury.
Mr Ince described how he feared for his life as the severity of the blaze dramatically altered, leaving him unable to see due to the smoke.
The 42-year-old, from Swanfield in Long Melford, said he saw the lady throwing stuff out of the second-floor from her home as the on-call crew from Long Melford arrived as the first crew on the scene within minutes of the fire being reported.
Making the decision to put up a ladder and reach the woman, Mr Ince said: “She was shouting. I decided I’m going to go up that ladder.
“I got to the lady, she was quite emotional, I tried to calm her down and said, ‘we are going to get you out whatever, I’m going to stick with you’.
“And then the fire progressed a bit further than it was. I thought ‘you are going to have to come out now’. I Grabbed her legs and helped her out. She was sitting on the ledge of the sill of the window. Then you just couldn’t see nothing. I coughed a little bit but I thought ‘no, I’m going to sit there and carry on and do what I had to do’.
“I got her off the ledge and I was reassuring her, ‘your not going to fall’.”
The firefighter, who works full-time as an upholsterer in Long Melford, managed to get the desperate woman to the safety of another crew, but admitted that it had been a scary experience.
Mr Ince said there had been a back draft from one of the shops that had blown a window.
Despite hearing this he said “I thought, ‘I’m not going to leave it’.”
Described as a hero, Mr Ince shook his head, saying all of his fellow firefighters were heroes.
Asked if he was ever worried he might not make it, Mr Ince said: “I did, at one point, when I couldn’t see, when it was really, really smokey and really strong, I heard the explosion, the window go and I thought, ‘this is it, I’m going to come down or be alive or be blown off the ladder’.
“But I just thought to myself, ‘no, I’m not going, I’m sticking with her and getting her out’.”
He added: “I was a bit scared. At the end of the day we’re in this job to do what we do and we are trained to do it.”
Fire chiefs said they do not yet know the cause of the fire but said investigations between the police and fire service had been taking place today and would continue tomorrow.
Efforts continue in the town to support those affected by the fire, with donations of food, clothing, shelter and money.