Cherry Tree Fire , Brother And Sister Raise Alarm

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Cherry Tree Fire , Brother And Sister Raise Alarm

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  • I remember this fire well approx; 17.55 hrs just changing watch I was coming on nights but jumped the no: 10 with John Davies & Colin Heywood (Station Officer) the call came in as a chimney fire at Gladstone Terrace Cherry Tree in was only when I was guiding the appliance up Gladstone Terrace that a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and said What the F______g hell are you doing there’s people inside ( the street was full as smoke exactly what you would expect on a chimney fire. As I tested my BA set By folding the air supply pipe I could no get a seal I was breathing air when I should not have been, I mentioned this to the Station Officer after checking all my head straps he ordered John Davies & myself into the house which was going well after attempts by the general public to gain access the front door was open and the front bedroom window was broken by a resident to get into the front bedroom window. Smoke and flames were billowing out of this window due to the fire being fed by oxygen entering through the front door. As we had originally got the call as a chimney fire and not a “Persons Reported” we only had one appliance (5 Men) the officer Colin Heywood the driver Frank Bond (I think) and Paul Anderson as standpipe together with John & myself as BA. We went up the hallway into the back kitchen where the fire had started through the family dog knocking over a paraffin heater, The stairs went up from the back door before entering we were told by neighbours that young Graham slept in the front bedroom, we fought our way up the stairs with a hose reel and entered the front bedroom and commenced a search John going one way round the room and myself the other. After approx 10-15 minutes we both heard this shrill from the street outside shouting “He’s in the back bedroom” the voice was that of graham’s father. We then about turned about and started a search of the back bedroom John going to the right I to the left I had only gone approx 6-8 ft when I came across a cot and with the assistance of my lamp I could see Graham wgho had pulled the covers overs his head as though to protect himself, I pulled the covers back and lifted Graham out of his cot informing John Davies I had found him. By this time more appliances had arrived from Blackburn and Darwen, I met a Darwen firefighter just about to climb in through the front bedroom window so I took Graham to that window and passed him to the Darwen Firefighter, he immediately took young graham to an Ambulance which by then was on scene and I started to descend the ladder approx 4 rounds from the bottom I went all dizzy and fell to the ground (I remember coming to in a flood of water pouring down the gutter, when I was assisted up by two Blackburn firefighters they proceeded to help me walk dow the street (I think one was Frank Bond I can’t remember who the other was it may have been Mick Cooper as other appliances has arrived by then. Grahams father went over to the ambulance men and asked to his wellbeing, and was told he was breathing, I remember his father come dashing across the street and started kissing me which I’m not proud to say started me crying to the retorts of my pals ” You big soft hairy arsed fireman” which gave me a laugh. The ambulance set of to Blackburn Infirmary but I believe Graham died either on the way there or at the hospital I never actually found out. What made the incident more poignant was that I had a son exactly the same age as Graham. We wrapped up the job and went back to the station where the Station Officer took my BA set to see why I had Collapsed and was told the following day that the speech diaphragm was damaged and letting air in through it and not just allowing me to exhale, hence why I could not get a seal before entering. I was ordered not to mention the fault on the BA and to this day I never have but now as I’m 74 I thought it was safe to say. Even just to put the official record straight. I remember much more about the incident but that is the gist of it Colin Heywood later died and I assume any of my colleagues have long since retired. There was at the time some doubt as to wether the speech diaphragm had been damaged or assembled wrong I cannot say one way or the other, and would rather not let this piece of information get into the public domain and have only mentioned it knowing I am talking to proffesional firefighters who will understand my concerns. I have read your Phoenix Project with interest but have doubts as to the year of this particular incident I thought it was more like 1965-1968 as though this matters. Just as a point of interest there is no chance of me buying a Blackburn cap badge from the time is there? It would be very nice to show my grandchildren & greatgrandchildren. I do realise that Blackburn Fire Brigade is no longer independent and is part of Lancashire Fire Service. Unfortunately I am now confined to bed through cancer in my spine but I have survived although my legs no longer work. I think it would be impossible for me to do a hook ladder drill nowadays. Many thanks, Dennis Ainsworth Fireman 30.

    By Dennis Ainsworth (09/03/2017)

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