Essex Police couple rescue elderly neighbours and seven pets from house fire
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An elderly couple whose bungalow in Corringham burst into flames after being struck by lightning were heroically rescued by police dog handler PC Dave Bridge and his wife, Samantha, who works for the force’s Criminal Justice Unit.
The pair entered the burning building in the early hours of Sunday morning and braved thick smoke and a collapsing ceiling to get neighbours Barry and Margaret and their six dogs and one cat to safety.
The fierce blaze took Essex Fire and Rescue crews from Corringham, Orsett, Basildon and Grays two hours to extinguish. Although the house was saved, the roof and loft bedrooms have suffered extensive damage.
Dave and Samantha were woken up by what Dave described as “an explosion” that “shook the house and made the roof tiles rattle” at 3.30am. He went to check on the family’s five dogs - which includes police dogs Leo and Ralph - when his stepson told him that their neighbours' house was on fire.
Dave told him to call 999 while he and Samantha immediately ran next door where they knew the couple who live there, Barry and Margaret, would need help due to their age and lack of mobility.
Dave said: “There was smoke billowing between the two bungalows and the side of the house was ablaze. I ran around to the front of the house and another neighbour was banging on one of the windows.
“Barry opened the inner door and me and Samantha rushed in. I shouted, ‘It’s time to get out now, come on.’ Margaret was through the back – she didn’t hear the explosion, although I don’t know how!
“Samantha set about getting hold of Barry and Margaret and taking them outside, and I took all the dogs, one by one, under my arm and put them in the back of their car.
“While I was doing that, the ceilings were alight and the ceiling in the kitchen fell down. The smoke was horrendous – it was stinging your eyes. By the time we got outside the whole roof was alight.”
Barry and Margaret were taken to a neighbour’s house and an ambulance was called.
Dave - who has been with Essex Police for 20 years – played down his and Samantha’s bravery, saying they only did what comes naturally.
He said: “We didn’t hesitate, I went straight in and Samantha was right behind me. It’s just what you do, isn’t it? They’re our neighbours and they needed to be got.
“Our other neighbours in the street were really good as well, bringing cups of tea and looking after Barry and Margaret. It’s a nice community.”
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