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Tesco security guard runs into fire-hit block of flats to lead parents and their two children to safety

PUBLISHED: 15:07 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:10 23 April 2018

Thetford Tesco security guard Jim Fenner fought against smoke from a flat fire to help residents to safety. Picture: Ian Burt

Thetford Tesco security guard Jim Fenner fought against smoke from a flat fire to help residents to safety. Picture: Ian Burt

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A supermarket security guard led two parents and their two children to safety after running into block of flats when he saw thick black smoke coming from inside.

Some of the resulting damage following a flat fire in Norwich. Picture: Rebecca MurphySome of the resulting damage following a flat fire in Norwich. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

Jim Fenner had just gone on his break at the Tesco Express in Norwich Road, Thetford when the drama unfolded at around 6.30pm on Sunday evening.

He went out the back of the building, above which are a number of flats, to get some fresh air when he smelt what he thought was a bonfire.

“I turned around and saw thick black smoke coming from the flats,” said the 42-year-old father-of-four and grandfather.

After calling 999, he buzzed himself into the flat.

The Tesco Express in Thetford where fire broke out in the flats above on Sunday evening. Picture: Ian BurtThe Tesco Express in Thetford where fire broke out in the flats above on Sunday evening. Picture: Ian Burt

He said: “I didn’t think about it. I just went in. I just knew there were children in there.”

Mr Fenner, who lives in the town and works for Total Security Services at both the Thetford Tesco stores, raised the alarm by banging on the flat doors and telling people to evacuate the flats.

“I ran up the two floors as I knew the smoke was coming from one of two flats,” he said. “The first one I banged on, a man came stumbling to the door and I told him to get out.”

He went inside the flat to make sure no one had been left behind.

Thetford Tesco security guard Jim Fenner fought against smoke from a flat fire to help residents to safety. Picture: Ian BurtThetford Tesco security guard Jim Fenner fought against smoke from a flat fire to help residents to safety. Picture: Ian Burt

He added: “When I opened one of the doors I could feel the heat. I did not want to go in there so I shouted.”

Mr Fenner then went to the two neighbouring flats where he helped a couple and their two children and two ladies out of the building. He was taken to the West Suffolk Hospital to be checked over but said apart from a tight chest, sore throat and a stinging in his eyes, he is fine.

Dario Carvalho, whose mother and step father live in the flat where the fire took place, gave his thanks to Mr Fenner for his help.

Mr Fenner’s wife of 21 years Gwen said: “It was a bit of a shock when I found out, I could not believe it. I was getting all these messages. It was only when he came back that I had more of an idea of what he had done.

“I am very proud of him. He does not realise what he has done. No matter what is asked of him he does it and he has always been the same.”

Norfolk Fire and Rescue service sent three appliances to the scene.

Fire crews were on scene for around 1hr 30mins. A fire service spokesman did not reveal the cause of the fire but said there would not be an investigation.

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