‘We’d be dead if it wasn’t for Dutch’ - Hitchin housemates escape fire after pet dog wakes them up

Emergency services at the scene of the blaze in Nightingale Road.

Emergency services at the scene of the blaze in Nightingale Road. - Credit: Archant

Survivors of a terrifying home inferno in Hitchin have been speaking about their dramatic escape – and paying tribute to the dog who helped save their lives.

The fire rages in Nightingale Road, Hitchin.

The fire rages in Nightingale Road, Hitchin. - Credit: Archant

Staffordshire bull terrier Dutch raised the alarm when fire broke out at the Nightingale Road home as owner Leon Campbell and housemate Martin Hehir slept.

Martin had to leap from a first floor window to safety, and once Leon had made his escape he climbed a ladder to rescue his beloved pet from the flames.

Martin, 34, told the Comet: “When Dutch woke me up the fire was progressing fast.

“There was thick black smoke everywhere. I knew I’d be in trouble if I took in too much smoke so I decided to get out of the window in my bedroom.

Staffordshire bull terrier Dutch raised the alarm.

Staffordshire bull terrier Dutch raised the alarm. - Credit: Archant

“I couldn’t smash it, and I couldn’t fully open it, but I managed to push my single bed mattress through it.

“I then edged out onto the sill and hung by my fingertips until I decided to jump about 15ft onto the mattress below.

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“It all happened so quickly but the adrenaline was flowing. If I hadn’t have jumped I would have died.”

As Martin lay winded on the mattress, Leon grabbed a ladder and climbed up to Dutch – who was at another first floor window.

The damage caused by the fire in Hitchin.

The damage caused by the fire in Hitchin. - Credit: Archant

Leon said: “It was partially open so I grabbed his collar, pulled him through the gap, and fired him onto the roof of Martin’s car.

“There’s a dog-shaped dent on the roof, but Dutch is fine. I then got down the ladder as fast as I could.

“We’d all be dead if Dutch hadn’t woken us up.

“The house was severely flooded a few days previously by overflow from the River Hiz following heavy rain – which may have affected the electrics in the house.

The ladder used to rescue Dutch.

The ladder used to rescue Dutch. - Credit: Archant

“It’s been an eventful time for Dutch, who I took on as an abandoned puppy, but he’s taken a flood and a fire in his stride.

”My advice to everyone after this experience if you want to survive a fire is to buy a smoke alarm – and a brave dog.”

Former Hitchin Boys’ School pupil Martin, who teaches at Lordship Farm Primary School in Letchworth, added: “My school receives visits from the fire service, and if our story prompts a single person to learn more about what to do in the case of a fire, then at least we can take something positive from it.”

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