Neighbour plucks sick man from house fire

SIENA YATES
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2013
Doug Pulford and Raywin Pierce
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

OUR HERO: Doug Pulford and Raywin Pierce stand in the charred wreckage of Mrs Pierce’s fire ravaged home. Mr Pulford carried her terminally ill husband to safety.

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A Cambridge man carried his terminally ill neighbour from a fire before it could tear through the room where he slept.

Doug Pulford sprang into action when he heard a fire alarm sounding loudly next door, knowing that Dave Pierce was inside - and unwell.

"[My family was] about to go cycling when we heard the alarm; I just heard this, ‘Help! Help!' . . . so I shot up there and saw the whole side of the wall in flames and smoke coming right across the ceiling, and I just thought straight away that I had to get Dave out," he said.

Mr Pierce relies on various equipment and pumps to help him cope with his illness, making the rescue tougher than bargained for.

"I was a bit unsure so I just picked up the whole lot and took it out with him," Mr Pulford said. "By the time I came back up, the whole side of [the house] was going, it was just so quick."

The Friday morning fire is believed to have started when the glass of a scented candle burst, with the candle setting fire to the table it was on, while Mr Pierce's wife Raywin was downstairs doing housework. She said they had only been in the house for about a year and did not know the man she now calls "our hero".

Other neighbours and passers-by all stopped to help, trying to set hoses on the fire, but there was "just no way".

Fire services arrived quickly and managed to contain the fire so that it caused damage only to one wall and the roof area.

"I'm just blessed, and so grateful," Mrs Pierce said. "If it weren't for that smoke alarm and for Doug and everyone's help, Dave wouldn't be here."

But she is concerned that people should realise how important smoke alarms are, particularly with the end of daylight saving approaching.

"People are so blase about smoke alarms, but it saved a life and a house. If there's one thing I want to stress, it's that. Especially with daylight saving changing next weekend, please just check your batteries."

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- Waikato Times

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