A 91 year-old pensioner was hailed a heroine today after she called on her wartime Army experience and bravely rescued a neighbour from his burning flat.
Fire chiefs praised fearless Jessamine Skuse, known as Jess, claiming she had saved the life of frail Evan Davis, 97, when deadly smoke filled his home.
Plucky Jess banged on Evan’s door and then dragged him out to safety before going back into the property to raise the alarm.
Unmarried Jess said her training as a plotter during German bombing raids on London in World War II taught her to remain calm in emergencies.
She said: “Being in the Army definitely taught me a lot. I don’t think I would still be here today if I hadn’t gone into the Army.
“It teaches you to keep calm in emergencies, keeps you fit and teaches you discipline.”
Jess’s 6.30am rescue came in Knowle, Bristol, where she lives next to Evan in a block of flats for the elderly.
She said: “There isn’t a warden in this building so we have got to do what we can, we have got to live accordingly
“People don’t help one another today but I try and help the best I can.
“I just smelled smoke and sprung into action, I didn’t really think about, I just tried to get him out, there was smoke everywhere.
“I didn’t really realise I’d saved his life until afterwards when the fire brigade told me. I was very shaken up.”
Modest Jess, a retired civil service proof reader, said it was lucky for Evan that she always woke at 6am sharp.
She added: “I’d just got out of bed to make a cup of tea and have a biscuit and I started to smell smoke so I looked around to see what it was.
“I thought it was in my kitchen but when I realised it wasn’t I went outside and saw smoke in the corridor coming out of Evan’s flat.
“I banged on the door but he didn’t respond so I called through his letter box and he mumbled something at me, there was smoke everywhere.
“Then I heard this shuffling. The door opened just a little bit and there he was, smoke pouring out of the door.
“I just pulled him out, but he tried to go back in not realising how bad it was, so I pulled him some more and brought him to the mobility chair in the hallway.
“I got him a glass of water to try and calm him down, he was really in shock and coughing and spluttering everywhere, I think it had gone down the back if his throat.
“I went back inside his flat again and pressed his alarm button to call for help, I told them there was a fire and then went back to Evan.
“It took the fire brigade about 20 minutes to half an hour to arrive and in that time Evan was still coughing, he had taken in a lot of smoke.
“It was a bit of a shock, I was a little bit shakey, it was quite a shock to everyone.
“But I didn’t do it for the recognition, you just do these things, anyone else would have done the same.”
Evan was still in hospital yesterday recovering from smoke inhalation from the fire which was started by a tea towel he left on a lamp to dry.
Jess, who served with the 80th Searchlight Regiment in the war, suffered nothing more than a slight tickle in her throat.
Avon Fire & Rescue spokesman James Bladon said: “There is little doubt the actions of Miss Skuse played a significant part in averting a much more serious incident.
“Just a couple of breaths of smoke in a house fire is enough to kill, so the sooner you can get to a place of fresh air, the better.
“Although we would never advise anyone to enter a property that’s on fire, we thank Miss Skuse for the part she played that morning.
“Not everyone is fortunate enough to have such a quick-thinking neighbour, which is why installing smoke alarms on every level of your home and testing them on a regular basis is so important.”