Heroic husband and wife rescue elderly neighbours from burning home

-Credit:Si Barber
-Credit:Si Barber

A heroic husband and wife who rescued their elderly neighbours from a burning house have been praised for their acts of bravery. PC Dave Bridge and his wife Samantha were asleep at home when they were woken up at 3.30am by a loud explosion.

It emerged that the couple's neighbours’ house had been struck by lightning and had caught fire. They were aware that the elderly residents of the next-door house had mobility issues and would be unable to get out by themselves and also that they had a number of pets.

“I was dead to the world,” recalls PC Bridge, a dog handler with Essex Police. "And the biggest.. I could only describe it as an explosion or bang, I think I’ve ever heard woke me up instantly, shook the house."

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PC Bridge and Mrs Bridge, a member of police staff, ran over to the house, where other neighbours had already gathered and were banging on the windows. They managed to wake the male resident, who was able to open the door.

Both PC Bridge and Mrs Bridge rushed into the house through the thick smoke to rescue their neighbours, prioritising the elderly residents’ wellbeing. The female occupant was at the back of the house and hadn’t heard the explosion.

The house in Corringham caught fire after it was struck
The house in Corringham caught fire after it was struck by lightning -Credit:Essex Fire Service

The couple navigated their way through falling debris from the ceiling to get to the woman. Mrs Bridge woke her and helped her out of the house while PC Bridge picked up the six dogs and one cat one by one and carried them out.

“All the time the house was just filling up with smoke and the ceiling fell down while we were in there,” said PC Bridge. “By the time we’d finished, pretty much the whole top of the house was engulfed.”

Once out on the street, other neighbours rallied around to look after the elderly couple. Thankfully, as a result of PC Bridge and Mrs Bridge’s actions, nobody was hurt.

Mrs Bridge, a Criminal Justice Support Officer, added: "I didn’t really think about it. I just went in. I’m glad they’re out safe. The house is completely being rebuilt, pretty much. They’re not going to live in it for a long time, but I’m grateful that the animals all got out and the people.

"It is nice to be recognised and I’ve told the people in the house about it all and they’re really happy about it. In fairness, all the neighbours were brilliant. They all came out, people were making tea and helping look after them until they went off to the hospital.

"I don’t want to take all of the glory, because people did help. They might not have gone in, but they did offer support in different ways."

PC Bridge concluded: “I’m pleased that the police can get some good press for a change.”

Dave Bridge, a dog handler, with partner Samantha Bridge, a Criminal Justice support officer, both of Essex Police, receive a commendation award from Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington
PC Bridge and his wife Samantha alongside Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington (R) -Credit:Al Underwood/Essex Police

Last month the brave actions of five police officers who "ran towards danger" to rescue seven children and two adults moments before a massive explosion. Two other officers who managed to rescue a woman hanging off a tall building by just her fingertips were also recognised for their acts of heroism.

Essex Police Federation Chair Laura Heggie said: “What heroes! If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking and bravery of both Dave and Samantha, this incident could have had fatal consequences. They acted swiftly to help neighbours in dire need.

"We are very proud of them and their courage. Running towards the danger in the middle of the night and off duty. What incredible work."

The Bridges will attend the Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards on Thursday (May 16). At the event a winner will be announced who will travel to London for the National Police Federation Bravery Awards in July.