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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Four young men save elderly French woman from fire

In need of a break from all the usual doom and gloom you see, hear or read about in the news?

Then how about the story of an elderly woman saved from an apartment fire by the quick thinking and bravery of some of her neighbours.

(screenshot from amateur video)

It happened on an inner city estate in the eastern French city of Colmar last Tuesday, was reported in the regional daily Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace (DNA) the following day and finally picked up by national news on Friday.

And just in case you missed it, here it is.

According to DNA the fire broke out in the 89-year-old woman's apartment late on Tuesday afternoon and, as the flames took control, she found herself trapped on the balcony.

"Some of the other neighbours had already lain mattresses on the ground in readiness for her to jump, but I shouted to her to stay where she was," one of her eventual rescuers, Dimitri Higelin, told DNA.

Dimitri Higelin (screenshot from TF1 news)

The 22-year-old soldier, who had recently completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan, was clearly a quick thinker and definitely the kind of person you would want to have around in an emergency.

He rallied the support of some other young men who lived in the neighbourhood, and a ladder was found.

Hassan Hannoud (screenshot from TF1 news)

"I couldn't just stand around doing nothing and watching a woman being burnt. That was unthinkable," Hassan Hannoud, another one of the four rescuers told TF1 news.

"The only solution was to climb up. I think if she had been there five more minutes, it would have all been over for her."

And climb they did, Higelin putting himself between the woman and the flames when he reached the balcony and the four men working together to carry her down the ladder to safety one floor below.

She spent the night in hospital but was released the following day.

Go ahead, take a look at an amateur video shot by someone who witnessed what happened and watch right until the end as the four men bring her to safety, the onlookers applaud and the sirens of the fire service arriving can be heard.

And admit that it doesn't at least give you a slightly good feeling.

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