Pendle firefighters honoured after fire tragedy

TWO Pendle firefighters who dealt with the aftermath of a murderous arson attack on a family in the middle of the night are to receive commendation awards from Lancashire’s Chief Fire Officer, Mr Peter Holland, at a ceremony at Blackburn Fire Station on Thursday.

Firefighters Shahbaz Shah, who lives in Nelson, and Gary Larter, who is from Barnoldswick, are both based at Blackburn and were part of a 10-strong team which dealt with the incident.

They faced an immense challenge on that night in October, 2009, to rescue the family of four, but tragically husband and wife did not survive. A complex police investigation followed, leading to the arrest and trial of the perpetrators, who were found guilty and are serving prison sentences for the crime.

On arrival, it was known a family of four were trapped inside.

One crew wearing breathing apparatus forced entry through the back door as another crew fought through the blaze at the front door and, wearing breathing apparatus, went into the house and to the rescue.

As they did so, colleagues set a powerful portable fan to work to force fresh air through the house, blowing the smoke out through the back door. This was to improve the chances of survival of those trapped in the seconds it took for firefighters to reach them.

All four people were found unconscious and on the floor in the front upstairs bedroom.

The first child, a 13-year-old daughter, was carried out to waiting paramedics followed soon after by the other child, a nine-year-old son. The mother, Ayesha, was the next to be rescued and, as just one ambulance was in attendance at this point, received resuscitation initially from two firefighters, including Firefighter Shah.