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From the Gazette (About 1954): Snatched Child From Fire Danger

A Witheridge house wife and an old age pensioner were presented with awards from the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire at South Molton on Tuesday. Mrs Thelma Fincham, of 8 Pullens Row, received the Society's framed certificate and a cheque for five guineas for rescuing a 20-month old baby from a blazing house at Witheridge, and Mr Albert George Chapple, of 6 Pullens Row, a cheque for three guineas for helping to fight the fire.

Police Inspector W G Carpenter said that when fire broke out at about 10.30am on Monday February 24th in 4 Pullens Row, Mrs Baker, the wife of the occupier, had left home to keep a dental appointment, leaving her ten-year-old daughter, Margaret, in charge of the 20-month old baby. The child was sleeping in her cot in the bedroom immediately over the kitchen, where clothes were drying on a clotheshorse in front of the fire.

During her absence, Margaret visited her Aunt, who lived next door, and on returning found the kitchen full of smoke, and realised that the clothes had caught fire. She called Mrs Fincham who, joined by Mr Chapple, with commendable resourcefulness started rescue operations and made efforts to fight the fire before the arrival of the police and fire brigade.

After entering the kitchen and finding that the dense smoke and heat prevented her from reaching the staircase, Mrs Fincham obtained a ladder and entered the bedroom from outside. She reached the baby in the cot just as PC Elstone got to the bedroom up the stairs and the child was brought to safety.

Meanwhile, Mr Chapple, who is 69, had been carrying buckets of water and had kept the fire down in the kitchen. "There is no doubt that his actions prevented a more serious fire, which was held in check until the arrival of the Fire Service", stated Inspector Carpenter.

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