A hero neighbour, a Muslim, has told UK’s Manchester Evening Times of the terrifying moment he rescued a teenage girl and a woman after a suspected arson attack on a house.
Hichem Haddad kicked the front door down before dragging the pair to safety during the ferocious fire in Rochdale on Monday morning.
At its height flames could been seen shooting out of an upstairs window as 25 firefighters battled the blaze on Lloyd Street, Sudden.
Mr Haddad, 51, said:
“I was in my front room and I could hear someone shouting ‘Help me’, so I ran outside.
“The girl was jumping up and down on the living room windowsill shouting out of the open window, but it was too small to climb out of. She was saying there was a fire upstairs so I shouted ‘Where are the keys?’, but she didn’t know.
“I started kicking the door. It was a heavy wooden door and it took me three goes to kick it in. I grabbed the girl and dragged her out then got the woman out.
“I’ve not done it to be a hero. My religion (Islam) says you look after your neighbour so that is what I did.
“I would hope if I’m ever in a situation like this someone would do the same for me.”
Mr Haddad also praised firefighters for bringing the blaze under control.
He said: “The fire brigade did a fantastic job. I’d like to thank them for what they did, because this could have been a really terrible situation.”
Houses on the street were evacuated as firefighters, who spent most of the day at the scene, feared the flames could spread.
Families sheltered at Sudden and Brimrod Community Centre on nearby Cheltenham Street until it was safe to return to their homes.
Melissa Walsh, of Bosworth Street, whose home backs onto Lloyd Street, said: “I heard an explosion, which I think was the window blowing out, and saw a red flash through the kitchen blinds.
“I opened the back door and smoke just came pouring into the house.
“The flames were just roaring out of the window. It was really scary.”
Neighbour Tiffany Kay added: “I woke up and all I could smell was smoke, so I looked out the window and just saw flames shooting out.
“I got everyone out of the house as quickly as possible and all the neighbours were on the street. There are lots of kids living here and it is half term so everyone was worried the fire would spread.”
Greater Manchester Police said an investigation into the cause of the fire had been launched.
A 35-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger lives in connection with the incident.