A hero supermarket worker who ran into a burning house fearing people were trapped inside has been honoured for his bravery.
Stephen Thacker, aged 23, risked his life to check for casualties while firefighters raced to the scene.
The Asda worker, who had been visiting a friend when he was alerted to the fire on Jackson Street, Goldthorpe, said his first instinct was to check nobody was trapped inside.
Smoke was billowing out of the windows and flames could be seen.
“The windows and doors were all shut so I had to kick the back door through to get in,” said Stephen.
“I put something over my face and went into every room, looking in cupboards and wardrobes, just in case anyone was inside trying to protect themselves from the fire.
“I was panicking but I did what I knew I had to – if anyone had been inside and I had not helped and something had happened to them I would not have been able to live with myself.
“I went into every room and thankfully the house was empty.”
Police chiefs said Mr Thacker was able to provide vital information to firefighters when they arrived on the scene.
Three engines – two from Dearne and one from Adwick – responded to 999 calls for help and crew members found the ground floor and first floor of the house engulfed in flames.
They carried out an investigation into the cause of the blaze and established that it had been started deliberately.
Chief Superintendent Andy Brooke presented Stephen with a Commander’s Commendation in recognition of his courage and public service.
He said: “Thankfully no people were in the premises at the time of the fire, yet Stephen was not aware of this and his actions were clearly courageous and without due regard for his own safety.
“I have no hesitation in awarding Stephen this Commander’s Commendation in recognition of his actions.”
Stephen, of Goldthorpe, added: “I just thought ‘I’ve got to get in’ when I saw the fire and realised all the doors and windows were locked.
“The heat and smoke were bad but I didn’t think of my own safety.”