Officer 'unaware' he was a blaze hero

A police officer braved injury and the effects of smoke inhalation to save seven people from a burning building in a midnight inferno.

May 24, 2018
By Nick Hudson
PC Neil Dobson: Woke sleeping residents

Police Constable Neil Dobson woke residents after forcing his way into a blazing block of flats in Croydon.

The Metropolitan Police Service officer was on a routine job with his police dog Monty when he came across the incident in the early hours of Saturday (May 19).

After seeing thick black smoke PC Dobson tied Monty outside and, with no thought for his own safety, rushed into the building to alert the sleeping residents – which included a mother with her baby.

On entering the building he found that most of the space was already filled with smoke, making visibility and movement difficult.

Failing to rouse some of the residents in the hallway, he was forced to force his way into the apartments to wake them.

Despite suffering injuries while opening doors and inhaling a considerable amount of smoke, PC Dobson carried on through the three floors of flats – successfully evacuating every resident safely before the arrival of the London Fire Brigade (LFB).

No resident was injured, although one person was taken to hospital by the London Ambulance Service for precautionary attention.

The unassuming PC had no idea how much of a hero he had been for 24 hours.

PC Dobson said: “There was a press article the next day reporting that the fire had completely destroyed the flats.

“It wasn’t till I read that, that I realised I’d actually probably saved some lives.”

A MPS statement said: “Without PC Dobson’s thought for the vulnerable, sleeping people inside and quick action he took, the incident could have easily spiralled into tragedy.”

An LFB statement added: “The communal area and a flat on the lower ground floor were destroyed by fire. Seven people left the building before the arrival of the brigade.

“The brigade was called at 0.33am and the fire was under control at 1.31am. Fire crews from Norbury, Croydon, and Woodside fire stations attended the scene.”

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