'She is our very own superhero': Julie rescues OAP from flat fire

September 10, 2021

Our home shopping driver Julie Briggs has been hailed a hero for saving an 81-year-old woman from a fire in her fourth floor flat of a high-rise building.

Julie, who works at our Middlesbrough store, had finished work and was on her way home with her daughter Abbey after visiting her parents, who live in the same block of flats in the Priestlands area of Middlesbrough, when she spotted smoke and flames billowing from a balcony.

She called 999, told Abbey, who's 16, to stay where she was, and then ran up four flights of stairs. She managed to wake the lady before dousing the flames just as they were taking hold.

Firefighters told Julie the situation could have been much worse if she hadn't done what she did.

Julie's parents, Denis and Mim, live on the 15th floor of the assisted living complex.

She said: "I'd just left them and was walking out the front door when I looked up and saw all this smoke coming from a balcony. I phoned 999 and then ran back in and up the flights of stairs to the actual flat. I really didn't know what I was going to face or the extent of the fire. You could smell the smoke, but you couldn't actually see it.

"I ran up the stairs quite quickly as I think adrenaline had kicked in; I seemed to just glide up them! I then knocked on the door in question and it did take the lady quite a while to answer it and she seemed a bit disorientated as if she'd been asleep.

"I asked the lady if there was a fire, and she said she could smell smoke but thought it was from outside.

"I thought I'd got the wrong flat at first bit I asked if I could come in and that's when I saw the balcony was on fire. The artificial grass and a chair on there were ablaze and it had started to spread to the plinth on the door and the insulation underneath."

Julie, who's 37 and has another daughter, 19-year-old Emily, ran to the lady's kitchen and grabbed a bowl of water which she threw on the fire. She did that another four times until the flames were out.

"When I shot the cold water on the fire the contrast between the heat and the cold caused the glass of the balcony to shatter and there was a loud popping noise. I feared the balcony might have fallen off and I panicked a bit at that point.

"That's when the fire brigade turned up and they used crow bars to remove the bottom of the doors to put the insulation out.

"They said if I hadn't of done what I done it could have been a whole different situation, not just for the lady, but other residents too."

After she'd spoken to the family of the lady, Julie went back up to see her parents.

"I just walked into mam's and I just burst into tears. She said 'What's wrong?' and I said 'I don't know'. I think it was a mixture of the fear of running up the stairs and not knowing what I was going into and happiness that I'd managed to control the fire before it got any worse. I was overwhelmed by the fire brigade saying how bad it could have been."

Julie, who's a single mum, says she's proud of her actions and that her daughters think she's a hero

She said: "Abbey gave me a big cuddle and said 'Mam, everyone here thinks you are a hero. I'm so proud of you."

Asda Middlesbrough's online trading manager Jackie Thompson, who has nominated Julie for an Asda service superstar award, agreed.

She said: "She is our very own superhero and we are all so proud of her here.

"It was fantastic what she did. She didn't think of her own safety at all; she was so brave.

"Julie is a such a friendly person, very well liked and a great team player."

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