Portsmouth archery coach awarded for quick-thinking in fire

Sonnie Emeney
Sonnie Emeney
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AN archery teacher has been honoured for putting out a fire in a suspected arson attack.

Sonnie Emeney, from Southsea, was teaching a class of 12 at Havelock Community Centre in Fawcett Road on September 21 when he noticed a blaze in part of the building.

While the fire service was called, Sonnie took matters into his own hands and used an extinguisher to put out the fire. The 20-year-old has now been rewarded for his heroic efforts with a certificate from Hampshire Fire & Rescue.

Sonnie, who is head coach at Southsea Archery Club, said: ‘I was really shocked and couldn’t believe it was happening.

‘Lots of things were running through my head like getting everybody out.

‘At first, I smelt strange fumes but didn’t think much of it. When we could smell smoke it forced me to go and check what was going on.

‘I went down the stairs to discover the fire up the side of the building.

‘I was horrified to learn that someone may have set fire to the building. You could hear that we were in there from the car park.’

There were reports that the fire was caused deliberately.

One witness, who did not want to be named, said: ‘A woman wrapped ripped clothing around an outside tap in the car park before setting it alight. That sent flames along the outside of the building. The woman was chased off by passers-by.’

Police are treating the incident as suspicious but no arrests have been made.

Sonnie was modest about helping out.

He said: ‘I don’t deserve an award like this – firefighters go into burning buildings like that every day.

‘I just put out a fire which I think most people would have done.

‘I’m just glad that no-one was hurt and there was no significant damage to the building as it’s where we teach archery and it is used by plenty of other community groups.’

Southsea fire station crew manager Richard Furse, 31, said: ‘By the time we got there Sonnie had extinguished the fire. The award is to show our appreciation of what a good job he did.’