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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 August 2005, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Soldier a hero at cottages blaze
Cottage fire
Firefighters were damping down at the scene on Sunday
An army sergeant has been hailed a "saviour" after rescuing nine people, including a woman in her 90s, from a row of burning cottages in Oxfordshire.

Eddie Young spotted the fire while driving past the historic thatched cottages at Church Green, Stanford in the Vale early on Sunday morning.

He plucked a 93-year-old woman to safety and several others trapped by smoke and flames.

No-one was injured, but about 15 people were forced to leave their homes.

Neighbour, Tina Parker, told the BBC: "A wonderful man from Dalton Barracks kicked up enough noise to wake the dead and we all shot out of bed and saw the flames.

I kind of went into a bit of shock about what could have happened if I didn't do what I did
Eddie Young

"He had actually been driving home to Stanford when he saw it and stopped the car and through his good offices he had actually already got one of the elderly ladies out and alerted the fire services, so he is an absolute saviour."

Ten fire crews tackled the blaze, which was reported at about 0130 BST. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Villagers formed a human chain to retrieve possessions from the homes, before the fire became too intense.

Flames from the burning row of cottages at the height of the blaze
At the height of the blaze 75 firefighters fought the flames

Mr Young was driving with his girlfriend when he saw the flames.

"If we were five minutes too early we might not have seen the fire and if I didn't see it these people might have all been dead," he told the BBC.

"I kind of went into a bit of shock about what could have happened if I didn't do what I did."

It was believed crews would be damping down the blaze for most of Sunday.

The damaged cottages, which are among the oldest in the village, are thought to have been converted from a barn on the green about 200-years-ago.

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