TWO Matravers pupils have been praised after their quick reactions saved a retired couple’s home from burning to the ground.
Taya McGreal, 12, and her friend Shannon Bond, 11, had cycled round to see Taya’s grandparents, David and Elizabeth Wemyss, at their home on Arundell Close just before 4.00pm on Tuesday 27th October.
Shannon said, “We heard the smoke alarm, and looked through the front door and saw flickering light in the kitchen. We went round the back and saw think black smoke in the kitchen.”
The girls then raced to Shannon’s grandparents’ house just round the corner.
Shannon said, “We told my granddad to call the fire brigade. We knew what to do straight away.”
Two fire crews attended the scene immediately, and were then joined by a further two when concerns were raised that David and Elizabeth could be inside the property.
Taya added, “We were scared because we thought my grandparents might be in there. When we found out they weren’t, I was really happy.”
In fact David and Elizabeth had left the house shortly before, to go and eat out after spending the day decorating the house for a Halloween party they had planned for the weekend.
David said, “The fire brigade said that if it hadn’t been for Taya and Shannon, in another five minutes the house would have gone completely. Their quick thinking saved us from catastrophe. When we’re back on our feet we’re planning to take them for a day out. It’s the least we can do, we’re very proud.”
The fire is believed to have started after a hob was accidentally knocked on, near some cardboard.
In the blaze, the downstairs kitchen was devastated, with heat damage to the downstairs study and extensive smoke damage throughout the house. Further damage to the property was prevented after Wiltshire Fire and Rescue managed to get the flames under control.
Westbury Pump crew manager, Jim Shaw, said, “If we had taken another five minutes then things could have been a lot worse. The girls did the right thing.
“Because the doors and windows were all closed the fire couldn’t get so much oxygen, and within five minutes of arriving the fire had been extinguished.”
David added, “We’re all in one piece, that’s the main thing. I’m full of admiration for the fire brigade, who were very quick, very prompt and very professional. We also want to say thank you to all our friends, family and neighbours for their support since.”
The couple have been living in a hotel since the blaze, and it look like they could be there for several months until their house is made habitable again.