Essex police couple commended for fire rescue

A couple who both work for the police have been recognised for their bravery after rescuing two elderly people from a house struck by lightning.

Samantha and Dave Bridge, from Corringham in Essex, both received commendation certificates from the county's chief fire officer.

The fire service said the commendation was the highest honour a chief officer can award.

Ms Bridge said the recognition was "lovely".

Fire fighters up a ladder at the front of a bungalow tacking a fire in the roof
The roof of the bungalow ignited after a lightning strike, the fire service said [Essex Fire and Rescue Service]

Samantha Bridge, who is a Criminal Justice Support Officer, and Dave Bridge, a police dog handler, awoke during the early hours of 18 June 2023 to what sounded like an explosion.

In fact, their elderly neighbour's house had been struck by lightning.

The couple jumped out of bed and headed into the house, which was already full of flames, to rescue their neighbours and their six dogs and cat.

Ms Bridge led the elderly couple to safety while her husband looked after the pets.

He said: "I took all the dogs, one by one, under my arm and put them in the back of their car.

"While I was doing that, the ceilings were alight and the ceiling in the kitchen fell down."

"The smoke was horrendous", he added, "it was stinging your eyes. By the time we got outside the whole roof was alight."

Parts of the bungalow's roof are blackened and missing where the fire ripped through.
Neighbours helped get residents and their pets out of the bungalow before fire crews arrived [Dawid Wojtowicz/BBC]

The chief fire officer, Rick Hylton, said: "Our police colleagues ran towards danger to help save lives, putting their own lives at risk. It takes real bravery and courage to run towards a fire and even more so to run into it to rescue others.

"I, and those people, will forever be grateful for your bravery and quick thinking."

Ms Bridge said many local people helped with the rescue: "People down the street were bringing out cups of tea. A couple of neighbours allowed [the elderly couple] to sit in their house until the ambulance came.

"It's lovely that we've been recognised but the whole community pulled together that night."

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