‘I was woken up by screaming’: Couple’s shock as fire guts neighbour’s house on New Year’s Eve

A police car outside the property in Shipdham, gutted by fire on Saturday night. Picture: Ian Burt

A couple from Shipdham have spoken of their shock after a neighbour’s house was gutted by fire in the early hours of New Year’s Eve.

Hannah Matthews and her partner Craig Barker were called into action when their neighbour’s house in Bradenham Road caught fire.
Miss Matthews, 21, said: “I was woken up by someone screaming.”
And her partner, Mr Barker, 22, said: “We realised something wasn’t right after 30 seconds.
“Smoke was billowing over the back of the house and flames were licking the sides.
The front of the burnt out property on Bradenham Road in Shipdham. Picture: Ian BurtThe front of the burnt out property on Bradenham Road in Shipdham. Picture: Ian Burt
“I jumped up and called 999. Someone was shouting outside.
“I was out there in less than a minute and went up to the chap who was facedown on the verge.
“In the 19 years I’ve lived here I’ve never bounded down those stairs so fast.
“I knew other people lived at the house and my first thought was for the mother and baby.”
Mr Barker works in IT at Norfolk County Council (NCC).
He recently had his fire marshal and first aid training renewed.
He said: “I told everyone ‘get back - the windows could go out’.
“We took the chap into a house. He had second degree burns all over his hands, and I’d had to stop him trying to open the front door.
“He was in serious shock. At times he was hyperventilating so much I thought he might pass out.
“We were out there at quarter to two and didn’t get back to bed until half five.
“Within the space of an hour it had all gone up.”
Miss Matthews, a teaching assistant from Toftwood, said: “We were out there straight away, and the guy was just wandering about.
“He said he had been sitting in his chair playing a game and a heater had caught fire and the back of his chair went up.
“We took him into a neighbour’s house to keep him warm.”
Miss Matthews also praised the emergency services for their swift response to the blaze.
She said: “The fire brigade were here within 15 minutes, and the police were so friendly and kept everyone calm.
“I can’t praise them enough.
“It took them two hours to get the fire under control but it was still smoking this morning.
“It was really scary.”
The couple added that a further four people lived at the property: two men, a woman, and a baby, who were all away at the time.
Five fire engines attended the scene of the blaze on Bradenham Road, leaving the scene at 5.30am.

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