‘Hero’ kicked down door of burning Ilford flat to save people inside

The Ilford man who kicked down the door of a burning building and saved a man’s life yesterday has said he “wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night” if he had done nothing.

Ken Elie, 40, was on his way home to Ilford Lane on Thursday afternoon when he saw smoke coming out of a flat in Paget Road.

He said: “I rode past on my bike but when I got to the corner, I had to go back.

“I had that feeling in your stomach that if you don’t do something it’s going to be bad.”

The fire brigade had not yet arrived at the scene and when a person standing outside said he did not know whether anyone was inside, Ken knew he had to go in.

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Ken said: “I kicked the door down and called out. There was no answer so I ran upstairs.

“There was a man asleep in the back room and when I woke him up he didn’t know what was going on.

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“The smoke was so thick you could barely see.”

Ken helped the man out of the building and dampened the landing with water to stop the fire spreading from the locked room.

Despite risking his life, Ken said he “wasn’t scared”.

He added: “When you’re in that situation you don’t think like that, you just think about getting everyone out.”

No one was injured in the fire, which burnt out the self-contained bedsit at the front of the building.

The resident Ken saved, who did not want to be named, hailed him as a “hero”.

The man added: “I came home from work and fell asleep and the next thing I knew, someone was banging my door down telling me to get out because the house was on fire.

“If he hadn’t come I would have still been in there. I owe my life to that guy.

“I’ve got his number and I’m going to take him out and get him as drunk as you like.”

Firefighters from Ilford, East Ham and Barking put arrived at around 3.30pm and put the blaze out “quite quickly”.

Ilford watch manager Darren Horrigan said there were no working fire alarms in the building and encouraged residents to get them for free from Redbridge stations.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

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