Holy Island residents praised for tackling blaze as tide delays emergency services

Residents on Holy Island in Northumberland used extinguishers and buckets of water to fight the blaze on Saturday night as the closure of its causeway delayed the attendance of mainland emergency services

Emergency services and residents at the scene of a house fire on Holy Island
Emergency services and residents at the scene of a house fire on Holy Island

Islanders helped tackle a house fire and rescued a trapped dog as the closure of its causeway delayed the attendance of mainland emergency services.

Residents on Holy Island in Northumberland used extinguishers and buckets of water to fight the blaze on Saturday night, while one went into the property to get the animal.

The response came as the tide being in meant the causeway linking the island to the mainland was closed, delaying the arrival of fire crews and paramedics who instead had to be airlifted to the scene.

The fire broke out in a three bedroom cottage which was unoccupied apart from the dog.

The blaze was at risk of spreading to a neighbouring home.

North East Ambulance Service requested the assistance of Humber Coastguard at 7.35pm, given the closure of the causeway meant a vehicle from the mainland could not reach the scene.

Humber Coastguard asked for the search and rescue helicopter from RAF Boulmer to be launched and also dispatched coastguard rescue teams from the island and Seahouses.

The coastguards prepared landing sites on the mainland side of the causeway and close to the fire.

The aftermath of a house fire on Holy Island
The aftermath of a house fire on Holy Island
 

The helicopter transferred nine Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service officers and an ambulance service paramedic to the scene.

In the meantime, island coastguards evacuated between five and 10 people from nearby homes and tried to keep members of the public away from the fire.

Neighbours used their own extinguishers and buckets and succeeded in halting the spread of the blaze.

The man who rescued the dog was checked over by the paramedic at the scene for smoke inhalation.

He was found to have minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment.

The dog was unconscious and was given CPR by its owner, a doctor, once she had returned.

The blaze was put out by the fire service by 8.39pm.

Graham Dawson, watch manager at Humber Coastguard, said: “This was a multi-agency response to an isolated location as the only connection to the mainland is a causeway, which was underwater this evening.

“HMCoastguard’s involvement was to coordinate the transfer of the right personnel over to the island by helicopter and help with evacuation of residents close to the scene.

“Our coastguard rescue teams both on the island and on the mainland secured the helicopter landing sites.”

The response of islanders and the emergency services was praised on social networking internet site Facebook.

The island’s coastguard team said on its page: “Holy Island locals also saved most of the burning house and adjacent properties by throwing buckets of water onto the fire, keeping the fire under control until the fire service arrived - marvellous effort!

“A true island spirit.”

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