Neighbours rescue family from blaze which damages two houses in village

A ferocious blaze came close to burning down two houses – with neighbours helping the people inside to safety.

The fire broke out between the two family homes in Pattingham, gutting cars, wheelie bins, garden equipment and leaving one home badly smoke damaged inside.

Jessica Evans and her fiancé Jack Wheatley, who live in Damson Park, broke down their own fence to get their neighbours to safety.

They spotted the fire, which reached around 10ft in height, at around 11pm on Thursday and got out of their own family home.

But after spotting their neighbours Wendy and Mel Johnson and their foster daiughter were struggling they rushed to their aid.

Miss Evans, 26, who is originally from Bushbury, said: “You’d think I’d be more likely to see this type of thing in Bushbury, not when I move to Pattingham.

“I was drying my hair and just happened to have the curtains open. They’d usually be closed at that time, it was pure fate that they weren’t.

“I saw some embers flickering to the side and thought it was strange that someone was having a bonfire at that time of day, it seemed out of place.

“When I looked I soon realised it was a fire and got into a bit of a state of panic, and started shouting ‘fire’.”

Her fiancé, Jack Wheatley, opened the front door – which is on the side of the house where the fire was at its most fierce – and realised it wasn’t a safe exit for his young children.

The couple have a seven-year-old son, four-year-old daughter and three-and-a-half month old baby.

The family escaped through their back door into the garden, then saw their next door neighbours were still in their house.

Miss Evans added: “Getting the neighbours out was the main concern. We were screaming at them to come out through the back door.

“It took them a while, we found out afterwards they had a dog which was really scared and taking a long time to get out.

“They had no way out so we broke our fence to let them through. Our neighbours on the other side came to help too.”

Firefighters from Codsall, Shropshire and West Midlands Fire Service turned up at the scene with four breathing apparatus, two hose reel jets and a main jet to tackle the fire.

Eight people were treated by West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Miss Evans and her family stayed around at another neighbours’ house until it was safe to return home several hours later.

She said: “The neighbours were all great, everyone from the street came out to try and help.

"We managed to get one car off the drive and another was damaged in the fire, it might have to be scrapped now.

"We stayed round our neighbours and the main thing is the kids are alright – we’ve just had a baby. All the damage is material, I’m just glad everyone was safe.”

The fire is believed to have been started accidentally and Wendy Johnson, who lived in the main property, suspects the fire started from the electric meter.

She added: “Everyone in Damson Park had a few power cuts on the day and the wall is all black where the meter was. The electric company took the meter away after the fire.

“We’ve lost everything. We’re foster carers and now we’re going into temporary accommodation, I’m gutted.

“I’d like to thank all our neighbours who came to our help, we really appreciate that.”

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