'Superhero' refuse workers come to family's aid during house fire
- Credit: Redbridge Council
Two refuse workers have been called "superheroes" after helping a family to escape a fire in Ilford.
Mark Hewett, from Dagenham, was on a daily round with Redbridge Council colleague Nick Gardner on Monday, July 25 when they spotted a fire at a property in Mortlake Road.
Nick noticed a teenage boy show his head around the curtain of the top-floor bedroom and told the child to keep his head outside the window to breathe properly.
Mark, a refuse loader, also sourced a ladder to help the boy evacuate the room.
Nick then kicked down the front door, where he was confronted by the flames.
Two young boys ran out the front door to safety while an adult also escaped the property through a back window.
No-one was seriously injured in the fire, although the quartet were all taken to hospital.
Nick called the London Fire Brigade to the scene just before 8.50am, with crews having the blaze under control at around 10.15am.
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Mark said: "It all happened so quickly. I think the two young boys who managed to escape through the front door showed great bravery in my eyes.
"If we hadn’t been driving down Mortlake Road that morning, I shudder to think what might have happened.”
The duo were praised by council leader Jas Athwal, who called them "real-life superheroes".
He said: "Thanks to Nick and Mark, a tragedy was averted, children's lives were saved and a local family was reunited.
"Every day our council staff work incredibly hard delivering vital services for our neighbours across Redbridge, but it's not every day they are called upon to risk life and limb to literally save lives."
Nick, who is from Southend in Essex, described it as a normal Monday morning before they saw the smoke coming from the house.
The refuse HGV driver said: “We're just pleased that no one came to any harm. We then got on with our shift as normal.
"It wasn't until later that evening that I realised what had happened. These things can take time to sink in."
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by London Fire Brigade.