Neighbours thank hero of Portsmouth flats blaze

Joy Valentine with Karen Hoggart who alerted neighbours after a fire broke out in an adjoining flat in their block in Rochford Road, Paulsgrove.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150013-3)
Joy Valentine with Karen Hoggart who alerted neighbours after a fire broke out in an adjoining flat in their block in Rochford Road, Paulsgrove.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150013-3)
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WE wouldn’t be here without her – those are the heartfelt words said about a heroic woman who jumped into action to save the lives of her neighbours in a burning building.

Karen Hoggart, of Rochford Road, Paulsgrove, frantically alerted 12 people – including children – to a blaze after hearing a fire alarm go off upstairs in her block of flats.

The kitchen after the blaze

The kitchen after the blaze

The fire broke out at around 2.30am after a docking station overheated in a resident’s kitchen.

Karen rushed up to the flat where the fire was raging and called through the letterbox and heard children crying.

The 52-year-old then called 999 and knocked on the doors of other residents who were asleep to alert them to the danger, before going back up to lead three children – aged four, 10 and 12 – who were inside the flat where the fire started to safety.

Neighbour Joy Valentine, 70, was grateful and has given Mrs Hoggart a bunch of flowers.

If it wasn’t for Karen’s actions then anything could have happened. I don’t know what would have happened, I owe her a big debt.

Resident Joy Valentine

Mrs Valentine said: ‘That is the least I could do.

‘If it wasn’t for Karen’s actions then anything could have happened.

‘I don’t know what would have happened, I owe her a big debt.

‘No-one would have seen the flames, they would have taken hold.’

The start of the fire

The start of the fire

Another resident, Sophie Pullen, 27, said: ‘If we weren’t alerted to the fire it would have been devastating for us and our three children.’

Colleen Pritchard, 33, woke up to find the fire in her kitchen.

Ms Pritchard was made aware of the fire after her daughter went to the toilet and found her auntie, Katie, passed out from the flames and the smoke.

The sisters’ mum Lorraine said: ‘We are going to make sure Karen gets something for her help.

‘We can’t thank her enough for what she has done.’

The Pritchard family were later taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Speaking of the rescue, Mrs Hoggart said: ‘I did what anyone else would do but I was shaking as everything was happening.’

Mrs Hoggart was awake in her flat watching television at the time.

‘I saw flames from the flat then dialled 999 and then knew I had to get them and the rest of my neighbours out,’ she said.

Firefighters from Cosham and Portchester were called at 2.48am to the blaze on February 25.