A HERO neighbour broke down a door to rescue a man from his burning home.
The victim is in a serious condition following the blaze in Noremarsh Road, Royal Wootton Bassett yesterday.
He was first taken to the Great Western Hospital by ambulance but was later transferred to Southmead Hospital in Bristol where he was said to be seriously ill.
Neighbour Ben Howarth was alerted when his own smoke alarm went off at about 2am.
Throwing on some clothes he went to investigate and discovered it was the house next door.
“The front room was full of smoke. You couldn’t see in the house, it was black,” he said.
“I kicked the door in and went in and found him on the floor in the front room and dragged him out. He was coughing and spluttering but he was breathing.”
The serviceman, who is based at RAF Benson, said: “In hindsight it was bloody stupid but at the time you don’t really think about that. The adrenaline kicks in. I’d like to think most people in that situation would at least make an attempt.”
He described how flames appeared and the windows blew as the door went in.
“It was fortunate that he was in his front room,” he said. “He was limp. There wasn’t a lot left in him.
"I put him on the pavement and went to wake up the neighbour on the other side. At that point he started to come round.”
The fire brigade and ambulance arrived minutes later and treated the man, who is in his 50s and understood to live alone at the house.
Meanwhile Ben’s wife Ellie and toddler son Fletcher were being cared for by another neighbour who had been woken by the noise.
Thankfully the tot was not sleeping in his usual bedroom because he was ill. Ben later discovered it was heavily smoke-logged and covered in soot.
“Without our alarm going off we would have been in a lot of trouble,” he added.
Neighbours described seeing smoke billowing out of the front door of the house.
One, who did not want to be named, said her household was woken at about 2am by noise.
“I just heard shouting and assumed it was youngsters on the way home from the pub,” she said.
But the shouting carried on so she went to look out of the window.
“I saw smoke billowing out of the front door,” she said.
Then flames appeared. She could also hear someone shouting at the victim not to go back inside.
Sgt Louis McCoy, of Royal Wootton Bassett Police, said yesterday: “At this stage the cause of the fire is under investigation and fire investigators have attended the scene, followed by our scenes of crime officers and investigations are underway.
“Nore Marsh Road is a busy road and as a result of the fire, a road closure was put in place early this morning. This has since been lifted however, a cordon remains in place at the scene this morning.”
Crews from Swindon and Westlea joined the town’s firefighters in tackling the ground floor fire using breathing apparatus.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service said the occupants were already out when they arrived. But the building was heavily smoke-logged.
A brigade spokeswoman said: “A fire investigation was carried out and we don’t believe there to be any suspicious circumstances.
“However, due to the scale of the damage and not yet being able to speak to the occupant, the cause is currently unknown."
Anyone with information about the fire should call police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.