Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

'Heroic' neighbours rescue children from house fire

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Matthew Robinson, 18, went into the burning home twice to rescue the children trapped inside

A family have been hailed heroes after rescuing five children from their neighbour's burning home in Dorset.

Matthew Robinson twice entered the house in West Street, Abbotsbury, near Weymouth, on Sunday, as his parents held a ladder to the window.

The 18-year-old scrambled about in thick smoke to rescue two children who were in a bedroom.

Dorset Police described the Robinson family's quick-thinking actions as "heroic".

The children, aged 16, 12, 11, five and 16-months, were able to climb to safety but their mother suffered a suspected fractured pelvis after jumping from the window.

He had to fumble around to find the last two children and he passed them down
Jackie Robinson

The family were taken to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester for treatment after breathing in smoke from the fire, which broke out at about 2130 GMT in the lounge.

Their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

Mr Robinson, who is studying to be a mechanic and works part-time at a garage, said he could not see anything in the smoke-filled bedroom and asked the two remaining children to make noises so he could find them.

'Too shocked'

He said that one of the boys was in a "bad state" and barely conscious as he was leaning against the bedroom door.

The boy's sister was leaning against some furniture nearby.

"They were too shocked to say anything. The mum was screaming 'Get them out' and that's all I could hear," he said.

"Being in the room with all that smoke trying to find them, I started to panic, wondering whether I would be able to find them or not.

Map of Abbotsbury

"It was just impossible to see anything so I was thinking what if I was too late and what would happen if I couldn't find them."

Mr Robinson played down his heroism, adding: "I would have thought anyone would do that to try and save some children."

Mr Robinson's mother, Jackie, told BBC News: "Matt broke in the back door, saw that the fire was in the living room and closed the door. He then got a ladder from the shed and climbed up.

"The oldest daughter passed down two children, then Matt went up the ladder into the bedroom while she climbed down.

"He had to fumble around to find the last two children and he passed them down to my husband, Roy, on the ladder and then Matt got out."

She added: "It could have been a completely different story if Matt hadn't heard them yelling outside."

The children were looked after by neighbours before the emergency services arrived.

Firefighters from Dorset Fire and Rescue Service tackled the flames.

Insp Andy Crook, from Dorset Police, said: "The actions of the Robinson family can only be described as heroic and without the quick-thinking and positive actions performed by Matthew, Jackie and Roy, there would have almost certainly been a more serious, if not a fatal, consequence."



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