THE swift actions of a Hereford garage owner have been hailed as “heroic” after he rescued a woman from a burning boat.
The boat was being stored in at the City Auto Repairs’ yard, Lower Bullingham, Hereford, where owners Bamber Irving, Karen Griffiths and Roger Gilmore were carrying out restoration work when the alarm was raised by a staff member at the site.
Mr Irving said he had been using a grinder in the stern of the boat when a spark hit an old piece of exposed insulation on Monday morning.
“The flames went up unbelievably fast, even though we had fire extinguishers to hand” he said.
“Roger and I managed to get out, but Karen was still in the boat. But she stayed so calm, got to the front of the boat, and lay down below the smoke.”
Eyewitness Adrian Quinn, who was visiting the repair shop when the emergency call went out, said garage owner Clive Hardman’s quick thinking and heroism saved the life of Ms Griffiths, who was trapped inside the boat when disaster struck.
“Clive’s extremely quick and calm response was to jump on board his Manitou forklift truck, and attach a heavy-duty chain to the inspection hatch on the boat to pull it open,” Mr Quinn said.
“The trapped lady was not able to make her way up the interior ladder to safety, so with no hesitation and thought for their own safety, Clive and the others jumped on to the burning boat, tied the chain he had just used to gain access into the vessel around the lady, and pulled her to safety using the Manitou.”
Mr Hardman said that although much of the interior had already been stripped out, the steel-hulled boat had been engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds, and that the safety of the owners had been his only thought.
“I want to thank Clive, the fire service and the ambulance service for all they did,” Mr Irving said.
“They were all so incredibly calm, and without their efforts, the outcome could have been very different.”
A fire service spokesperson said crews from Hereford were called to reports of a fire in a 40ft boat on dry standing in Watery Lane just after 11am on December 30.
West Midlands AmbulanceService said two ambulances and a paramedic officer were also called to the fire.
Paramedics assessed and treated three people at the scene before taking them to Hereford County Hospital for further treatment as a precautionary measure.
They have all since been released to recover from their ordeal at home.