A COUPLE have thanked the fire service for rescuing their beloved kitten Herbie and tortoise Zebedee after bedding caught light and the flames nearly destroyed their home.
The blaze took hold in the conservatory at the house in Gudge Heath Lane, Fareham at 3.30pm yesterday when a heat lamp, which was helping the 28-year old tortoise recover from illness, came loose and fell into its bedding.
Luckily for homeowners Peta and Steve Reading, their retired neighbours Eve and Pete Munro spotted the smoke and called the fire service, which put out the flames and rescued Zebedee and the couple’s four-month old ragdoll kitten Herbie.
Peta, a recruitment consultant, said: ‘We feel extremely lucky and thankful that the fire was not more serious. We want to thank our neighbours, and the fire service, for saving our pets and our home.’
The married couple were at work when Steve, a solicitor, received a call from a former work colleague who had seen two fire engines – from Fareham and Cosham – at their house. He immediately rang Peta who rushed home.
Steve said: ‘It all seems a bit surreal. It doesn’t seem real.
‘You never think something like this will happen to you. It was thanks to our fantastic neighbours and fire service that it was not much worse.’
Next-door neighbour Eve, 71, spotted the smoke when she went to clear her drive of weeds.
She said: ‘I noticed there was smoke in the conservatory, I looked through the letterbox and the hall was full of smoke, with the alarm ringing. I rang 999 and the fire service was here within three minutes. They were really quick.’
Pete, 72, said: ‘It looked like the glass was frosted, there was that much smoke.’
Eve added: ‘If we had not been here, then the whole house would’ve gone up. It was only because it was a nice day that I went outside.’
Zebedee was checked over by a vet, and was recovering at Peta’s sister’s house last night.
Herbie the cat – who hid from the fire upstairs until firefighters caught him – returned with the couple yesterday evening.
The couple’s nine-year-old son Teddy was at his grandmother’s house in Portchester when the fire happened and stayed there to allow his parents to clean up the smoke damage.
Fareham fire station’s watch manager Dave Higgins said: ‘Zebedee was very lucky that the neighbour heard the smoke alarm as that saved him, the cat and the family home.’