A 93-YEAR-OLD man had a lucky escape when flames engulfed the garage of his Ferring home on Saturday morning.
The pensioner was rescued by two women as his garage burned to the ground, and flames scorched his thatched home.
“Luckily the wind wasn’t blowing very hard. If it had been it would have blown the flames over and it would have certainly caught the thatched roof,” said neighbour David Copeland.
Witnesses saw black smoke pouring from the garage of the house on Beehive Lane, but initially thought it was just a bonfire.
Neighbour Kate Copeland said: “It was scary. I saw smoke coming from the top of the garage door. It was gushing out, really coming out thick and black.
“The whole inside of the garage was aflame. I’d never seen anything like it.
“Within about five minutes it was really ablaze. It was literally roaring. It was quite a sight. The smoke was so black and acrid it was horrible.”
“I was frightened because my husband had gone over there, I was worried about the pair of them. Fires are not something you play with.”
Kate’s husband David said he went across the road and found owner Mr Jenkins sitting in the conservatory.
“I knocked on the window and said you have smoke coming out of the garage,” said David.
Charlotte Kirkham, 33, said she saw the flames from her workplace at Mark Oliver estate agents on Ocean Parade.
She said she rushed to see what was happening and, with a passing jogger, brought Mr Jenkins to safety.
“I thought it was a bonfire but the smoke was getting blacker and blacker, so I went straight down there,” said Charlotte.
“He was just saying help me, help me, so we grabbed him and brought him in here. He was very shaken up and his hair had been singed.”
The outside of Mr Jenkins’ house was also damaged, and firefighters said it was lucky the thatched roof had not caught fire, or the situation could have been a lot worse.
Mr Jenkins was treated in hospital for slight smoke inhalation but was not seriously hurt.
Firefighters believe a faulty lawnmower or battery charger may have been the cause of the fire.