Man hailed as a hero after rescuing woman from burning flat in Gosport

A boat builder has been hailed as a hero for rescuing a woman from her burning flat after it exploded last night.

By Richard Lemmer
Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 12:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 2:36 pm

Liam Potter, 25, was at home in a former officer’s quarters off Weevil Lane when his girlfriend heard an explosion and looked out of their bedroom window to see smoke coming from a block on Thomas Grant Avenue at about 6pm.

Realising there was a fire, Liam went to be ‘nosey’ - but wound up being a hero as he dived into a burning flat to save a woman trapped inside.

The boat builder, who works at LP Marine Services, said: ‘I went to have a nosey of the fire.

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Liam Potter 25 who has been called a hero after rescuing a woman from the fire. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘There was loads of screaming and panicking.

‘There was no fire brigade and everyone was panicking, but I came to have a look – I never expected to do anything.’

Residents smashed the ground floor flat’s window and were looking for a hammer to break the glass to rescue a woman trapped inside.

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Woman taken to hospital with burns after explosion in ground floor flat in Gospo...
Aftermath of explosion in ground floor flat at Henry Player Avenue, Gosport. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Quick-thinking Liam asked two other residents to support him so he could ‘boot' the frame in and enter the flat.

But the fire made it impossible for Liam to find anyone and he had to jump out of the window after hearing a second explosion – but he went back in to find the woman.

He said: ‘It was horrible – it was full of black, black smoke, and popping and crackling.

‘Everything was flaming and crackling.’

Liam Potter's injuries from the rescue. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Having to carry the unconscious woman unaided, Liam was desperate for her to wake up.

He said: ‘She was unconscious, but I was screaming at her.’

The 33-year-old woman was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth to be treated for her injuries. Three other patients were treated at Gosport War Memorial Hospital for minor injuries.

Liam required 10 stitches in his left hand and several stitches in his right leg as he suffered cuts whilst climbing through the broken window.

Police presence near the flat. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The dad of 18-month-old twins said he ‘didn’t know why’ he braved the blaze – but kept imagining how he hoped other people would react if his children were trapped in a burning building.

He said: ‘I didn’t think anything of it until i got home after getting my hand stitched. I thought – ‘I could have died’.

‘The more I think about it, the more I think I was an idiot.

‘But my girlfriend said if I hadn’t done that, the woman would be dead.’

But Christmas preparations in his home have carried on regardless of his heroics, according to the lifesaver.

He said: ‘I haven’t got out of the cleaning today, which I’m not happy about.’

Forensic team near the burnt our flat. Picture: Habibur Rahman

A resident of the Grade II listed building and friend of the injured woman said Liam and the two men who helped him were ‘phenomenal.’

She said: ‘She would not be alive if it were not for them.’

They also said the council was ‘brilliant’ for having a liaison officer visit residents the morning after the fire.

More than 30 firefighters from Gosport, Cosham, Portchester, Southsea and Fareham were among those called out to deal with the blaze in the ground-floor flat.

Det Sgt Mark Alleman from Hampshire Constabulary attended the scene with a forensics team on Wednesday morning, and said the cause of the fire is still unknown.

He said: ‘We are keeping an open mind. All lines of enquiry will be investigated.’

Liam said he hopes to find out the injured woman’s condition soon and hopes the block’s residents can still have a merry Christmas.

He said: ‘Look after yourselves and each other – and don’t go running into burning buildings.’