Sheffield pensioner saves neighbour from smoking flat

Pictured is 71 years old Fire Rescue Hero Michael Webster of Blackberry Flats,Halfway Drive,Halfway who rescued his 81 year old neighbour Mary Palmer after her microwave blew up causing her flat to fill with smoke
Pictured is 71 years old Fire Rescue Hero Michael Webster of Blackberry Flats,Halfway Drive,Halfway who rescued his 81 year old neighbour Mary Palmer after her microwave blew up causing her flat to fill with smoke
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A PENSIONER aged 71 pulled his neighbour aged 81 from her smoke-filled Sheffield flat - then needed medical help himself after breathing in fumes from her smouldering microwave.

Michael Webster leapt into action when he heard Mary Palmer’s smoke alarm screeching.

Pictured is 71 years old Fire Rescue Hero Michael Webster of Blackberry Flats,Halfway Drive,Halfway who rescued his 81 year old neighbour Mary Palmer after her microwave blew up causing her flat to fill with smoke

Pictured is 71 years old Fire Rescue Hero Michael Webster of Blackberry Flats,Halfway Drive,Halfway who rescued his 81 year old neighbour Mary Palmer after her microwave blew up causing her flat to fill with smoke

He sprinted down the stairs of their communal block in Halfway, hammered on Mary’s door and pulled her to safety as thick black smoke filled her kitchen.

Mary was fine - but within minutes Michael, who suffers the breathing complaint chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, had collapsed after suffering the effects of inhaling smoke.

An ambulance was called and a paramedic spent two hours with Michael, helping him to get his breath back and recover.

Today firefighters praised the retired long-distance lorry driver and said: “Michael’s quick thinking undoubtedly contributed to saving this lady’s life.”

And Michael told The Star he would ‘do it all again’.

“I didn’t think of anything else,” he said. “It’s only afterwards you think about it.

“I just ran straight downstairs, started banging on her door, and when she answered I said, ‘For heaven’s sake Mary, let’s get you out of there’.

“I didn’t think about me and my COPD.

“Mary has been playing hell with me ever since for going in to all that smoke!”

Michael and widowed Mary have been neighbours for nearly five years in the Blackberry Flats on Halfway Drive.

He was at home when another resident in the council block of four heard a smoke alarm sounding and knocked on his door.

“I leapt up and straight away I could see smoke coming up the stairs from Mary’s flat,” said Michael.

“I didn’t know whether there was a fire or not, and it turned out there wasn’t - it was something plastic smouldering in the microwave.

“But it was making a hell of a lot of horrible thick smoke.”

Firefighters were called and the flat was ventilated to clear it of smoke and smells.

Michael is now recovering after the emergency last Sunday at 7.15pm.

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “Our normal advice is to call 999 and let firefighters deal with the incident.

“However we recognise that in exceptional circumstances such as this one, public acts of bravery are appropriate - and Michael’s quick thinking undoubtedly contributed to saving this lady’s life.

“This is also yet another example of where a working smoke detector has raised the alarm, giving vital extra seconds which could make the difference between life and death.

“But only working smoke alarms save lives, so we’d urge the public to register for our free reminders to make sure their detectors are in working order and ready to alert them to fires in the home. Thousands of people in South Yorkshire fail to regularly check their smoke alarms, and firefighters have been to dozens of house fires in the last three years where the alarm battery was either missing or flat.”

The fire service is running a Press The Button campaign, backed by The Star, aimed at getting people to sign up for email reminders to test their alarms.

n Visit http://pressthebutton.co.uk to sign up.