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Fire service praises hero, 19, in house blaze rescue; Mother-of-two brought to safety.

Byline: GARY STEWART

FIRE chiefs have praised the actions of a young man who rescued his neighbour when her house caught fire in the middle of the night.

Trainee electrician Michael Westhead leapt into action when, at 1.20am on Tuesday, he saw the house on Lugard Road, Aigburth, alight and neighbour Anne King clinging on to a second-storey window.

Nineteen year-old Michael grabbed a ladder from next door and ran down the road with a friend to help her down.

But Ms King was so frightened she could not let go so Michael, who plays in the back row for Liverpool Collegiate rugby team, climbed up to get her.

He reassured her and helped her climb down while neighbours held the ladder and phoned the emergency services.

Commending his actions, Station Manager Jed Flowerday, from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The fire service would like to commend the heroic efforts of the neighbour who rescued the female occupier from her first floor bedroom, in what was a severe fire on the ground floor.

"She is very, very lucky.

"The fire was extremely severe and there was tremendous heat."

Seventeen-stone Michael said: "It's good to be called a hero, but there was other people there helping hold the ladder and they should be thanked, too."

Hugh Baird student Michael said of the rescue: "I was watching Sky Sports News and everyone else was in bed.

"I got my trainers on and ran out the house.

"I got a ladder from Rachel next door and Terry and I put it up against the wall - but she was too scared to let go.

"I decided I had to go up there and get her.

"At the end of the day, she's OK and that's all that matters."

Ms King, 40, was taken to the Royal Liverpool Hospital suffering smoke inhalation and severe shock.

The mother-of-two, whose boys are on holiday with their father in Blackpool, said: "The house was on fire.

" I woke to crashing and banging and the fire alarm.

"I thought I was being burgled.

"I went to go down the stairs but it was just too smokey.

"I didn't see who it was who rescued me, but I'd like to thank him."

Michael's mother, Janet, said she was proud of her son's actions but, watching him carry out the rescue, her heart was in her mouth.

She said: "I was just going to pieces."

Three crews from Toxteth, Allerton and City Centre fire stations used breathing apparatus and jets to bring the fire under control.

It is not known how the fire began, but a fire service investigation is ongoing.

CAPTION(S):

Anne King outside her home Michael Westhead, who saved Anne King from her fire-damaged house in Lugard Road, Aigburth
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 29, 2009
Words:463
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