Dad-of-three Kevin Cookson has told how he helped rescue his unconscious girlfriend from a fire which destroyed their home.
Kevin, aged 53, leaped into action after the house in Standersfoot Place, Chell Heath, went up in flames on Monday, February 15.
The couple’s three children – 12-year-old Mikey who has Down’s Syndrome, Myles, aged eight, and Elijah, aged two – and three pet dogs were already out of the property after Myles had raised the alarm and phoned 999.
But Kevin and two neighbours then charged back into the smoke-filled house to save Kevin’s girlfriend Claire Harris, who had been poorly in bed.
Kevin said: “Myles went upstairs to get the code off my girlfriend for her phone.
“He came downstairs to me and said ‘dad I can’t see, there’s loads of smoke’. I ran upstairs and I couldn’t see either so I got my kids and took them outside.
“There was a big bang when the gas exploded. The house was blazing. As we were taking the kids and the dogs out, one of the neighbours took them in.
“I ran back in the house and upstairs in the bedroom where Claire was and I couldn’t find her because the smoke was that thick. I ran back out and got myself breathing then I ran back in again.
“I managed to find her and I pulled her towards the door but then I couldn’t breathe so I ran back outside the room again and had a breather and went back in. I pulled her to the bedroom door.
“One of my neighbours ran upstairs and couldn’t help so he ran back downstairs and got Jordan, another neighbour. He ran upstairs and had to pull her out towards me and we pulled her down the stairs.
“All the kids were out and so was Claire, she was unconscious. I knew I had to get her out, we’ve been together for 16 years.”
Kevin then ran back in to rescue his parrot.
He said: “People were screaming ‘don’t go in’ but I couldn’t leave the parrot in there.
“Myles is another hero because he rang 999 and kept the little boy out of the house.
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“We were taken to the hospital. The boys went with us because they had nowhere else to go. They were all clear and had no smoke inhalation or anything. They were frightened and they still are.”
The blaze started in the front bedroom which housed the children’s Christmas gifts, a TV, clothes, laptop and PlayStation.
Kevin and Claire are now living in temporary council accommodation with the three children.
He says the couple have ‘lost everything’ but has been heartened by a public appeal.
He added: “The house is destroyed. The only thing we have got is the dogs but we can’t have them here because we are not allowed.
“We had no insurance either. The people have helped us out and sent us loads of stuff. I can’t thank them enough.
“They have sent clothes, food, money and toys. It means the world to us.
“We don’t know the cause of the fire but we think it was the boiler.”
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