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Family praises 'heroic' firefighters who rescued injured cat from their fire-ravaged home

PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 06:49 24 April 2019

The burnt out top floor of the West Runton house hit by fire at the weekend.
Picture: KAREN BETHELL

The burnt out top floor of the West Runton house hit by fire at the weekend. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

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The daughter of a couple whose home was devastated by fire has praised the "heroic" firefighters who crawled through the smoke-filled property to rescue the family cat, before spending hours damping down flames.

The burnt out top floor of the West Runton house hit by fire at the weekend.
Picture: KAREN BETHELLThe burnt out top floor of the West Runton house hit by fire at the weekend. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Trainee teacher Gaby Toyn, 24, was sitting chatting with her parents on Easter Sunday when a neighbour burst into the living room to alert them to the fire, which started just before 5pm in an upstairs bedroom of the detached house in Station Road, West Runton, in north Norfolk.

“I still don't know who it was, but they just shouted, 'You need to get out, your house is on fire',” she explained. “We just grabbed what we could and ran, I rang 999 as we left the house and, from there, everything is just a blur.”

A fire crew from Sheringham was first on the scene, with appliances from Cromer, Holt, North Walsham and Wells, as well as an ambulance and an aerial ladder platform from Earlham, arriving shortly afterwards.

After battling four-foot flames shooting from the bedroom window and roof, the crews spent more than five hours damping down the fire.

Station Road, West Runton, which was the scene of a devastating house fire on Easter Sunday.
Picture: KAREN BETHELLStation Road, West Runton, which was the scene of a devastating house fire on Easter Sunday. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

They eventually left at 11pm, but were forced to return half an hour later when neighbour Karen Crane dialled 999 after realising the fire had re-ignited when she saw flames coming from the roof of the house from her back garden.

They didn't leave again until after 1am on Monday.

Ms Toyn said she and her stunned parents, who have lived at the house for 20 years, stood in the street watching in horror, before awaiting the arrival of paramedics in nearby Pedlar's Barrow, a puppet theatre and shop owned by Mrs Crane.

After being rescued by two firefighters, the two-year-old cat, which is expected to make a full recovery, was brought to the shop, where it was given oxygen by paramedics before being taken to a local vet to be treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

Flames pouring from the roof of the house in Station Road, West Runton at the weekend.
Picture: DEAN McCROHONFlames pouring from the roof of the house in Station Road, West Runton at the weekend. Picture: DEAN McCROHON

“One thing I would like to do is to thank Tony who saved our cat - which was a miracle - and obviously the whole team, who did an amazing job,” Ms Toyn said.

“My mum and dad are absolutely distraught, but the main thing is that we are all okay and I just want to focus on keeping them safe.”

The reaction of the village had been “overwhelming” Ms Toyn added, with hotels, guest houses and the local caravan park offering temporary accommodation, and people donating toiletries and clothes.

“We also had amazing support from the Red Cross and the community spirit has been incredible,” she said.

Flames pouring from the roof of the house in Station Road, West Runton at the weekend.
Picture: DEAN McCROHONFlames pouring from the roof of the house in Station Road, West Runton at the weekend. Picture: DEAN McCROHON

“We have been amazed by their generosity and just want to thank everyone as much as we can.”

The family, who are staying with friends, have been unable to return to the house to see whether any of their belongings are salvageable, but are focusing on staying well, Ms Toyn added.

Mrs Crane, a former nurse who has run the Pedlar's Barrow in a downstairs room of her home in Station Road since 2011, helped look after the family in the immediate aftermath of the fire, also staying open for five hours to serve up tea and coffee to firefighters.

She said she had been moved by the family's strength in dealing with the “horrific” incident and by the actions of fire crew members.

The normall sleepy village of West Runton, which was the scene of a devastating fire on Easter Sunday. Picture: KAREN BETHELLThe normall sleepy village of West Runton, which was the scene of a devastating fire on Easter Sunday. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

“The most incredible thing was to see this six-foot-tall firefighter covered in soot, ash and foam come in cradling a cat,” she said.

“He had crawled under the smoke to get him, which was an incredibly heroic thing to do.”

Mrs Crane added that a constant stream of people had since come into the shop with offers of help.

“They are a lovely family and I just hope that once they get over this, they will stay in the village,” she said.

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