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Heart attack survivor praised for saving woman from house blaze
A heart attack survivor is being hailed a hero after risking his life to save a neighbour trapped in a burning house.
Garry Hodgson had already been forced back by ferocious flames and choking smoke at groung-floor level, but refused to give up his “brave and selfless” rescue bid.
Instead, he climbed a ladder to reach the woman through a tiny bathroom window, before throwing her over his shoulder and carrying her down to safety.
Moments after completing the rescue, the 47-year-old collapsed in the street, struggling to get his breath due to a combination of the frantic activity and smoke inhalation.
The 6ft 4in father-of-eight, described by neighbours as a gentle giant, was the first neighbour on the scene at the house next door in Thackeray Road, on Bradford's Ravenscliffe Estate. He had arrived to find the whole ground floor engulfed in flames.
A crowd had gathered in the street as Mr Hodgson, who has suffered several heart attacks previously, and another neighbour, Bobby Conway, 43, fought to free the woman.
Mr Conway had tried to smash his way in through a lower window using a garden hoe to break the glass after someone shouted to tell him the woman was in the front room.
But he was pushed back, cutting his hand, as the window exploded and glass and flames blew out.
He said: “It was then I heard Garry shout ‘I’ve got her’. He threw her over his shoulder and carried her down, we both dragged her to the front gate. Garry went across the road, he was struggling to breathe then the fire engines turned up.
“It was Garry who was the hero really, he did it all. I did what I did because anybody would have done the same. I didn’t do anything special.”
Mr Hodgson had been watching a film with his wife Dawn when he heard the next door neighbour’s smoke alarm going off and discovered smoke pouring out of the house.
He had tried first to get in through bedroom windows at the front with his ladder, then the back door after the woman threw down the keys but the kitchen was like an inferno, he said. The woman had then shouted she was in the bathroom.
Idle Station watch commander Dave Burland said: “These men are proof that community spirit is well and truly alive. What they did was brave and selfless to save another’s life.”
Mr Hodgson, a community stalwart on Ravenscliffe volunteering at the local youth centre and helping keep the streets safe at night by going on patrol, said: “God knows how I got her out of that window. I just squeezed my head, shoulder and arm in and dragged her out. It all happened so fast but I collapsed in the road afterwards, I couldn't get my breath.
“I don't think I’m a hero, I just did what I had to do and that was to get her out.”
Mr Hodgson, who has suffered a series of heart attacks, was taken, along with the woman, to Bradford Royal Infirmary with smoke inhalation.
Mr Conway was also treated for cuts to his hand before being allowed home.
A police spokesman said the blaze was suspected arson.
- A 26-year-old woman has been charged in connection with the incident.