A grandmother has told how she helped save two men as their home turned into a fireball.
A ‘fluke’ decision meant grandmother-of-four Marie Swindlehurst drove past Euxton Lane, near Chorley, in the early hours of Tuesday, as a fierce house fire took hold.
The 53-year-old had just taken her husband, who was ill, to hospital and was returning home to pick up his medication at around 2.30am when she spotted the fire.
A four-berth caravan outside the house had caught fire and the blaze spread to the front and side of the property where Peter Chadwick, and his partner Tom Evans, both 43, were sleeping, unaware of the inferno outside.
Today, Peter said he owed his life to the quick-thinking grandmother.
Housewife Marie said she had been up most of the previous evening with her husband, who was suffering from a throat problem.
She took him to Chorley Hospital, but returned home to Dunnerholme Avenue, Buckshaw Village, to get his medication.
“I normally wouldn’t have gone that way from the hospital,” she said. “I thought ‘who’s lit a chiminea at this time of night?’.
“As I got closer it was a caravan. I pulled the car up.
“I started banging on the front door of the house, shouting and screaming at whoever was in there to get out.
“The gas canister must have gone off in the caravan and there was a bang, a large explosion.
“When I thought about it I was thinking I probably shouldn’t have been there.
“I didn’t even think about me, I just thought I hope there’s nobody in the caravan.”
The two men inside came out.
“One had a hosepipe and tried to hose it down,” said Marie. “The other came round the corner and he was in total shock.”
On reflection, she said she could not explain why she took the route home she did.
“I’ve absolutely no idea whatsoever – it was a strange night to be honest.
“It was just a fluke that I went that way. It was a bit of a shock to your system, but then again I’d do it again.
“I’m just really pleased both of the guys are fine.”
Peter, originally from Clitheroe, works as a civil servant and Tom, a civil engineer, comes from Wigan.
Peter said he woke up and could not see his alarm clock and thought there was an electrical fault.
“I was walking back and saw this bright orange light,” he said. “I ran upstairs, woke Thomas and he got the hosepipe and started to spray over the bay window.”
Around a dozen firefighters arrived in two fire appliances and tackled the blaze.
“We’ve got open eaves and I was concerned the flames would get under them.,” said Peter.
“We’ve just had the facia replaced with plastic ones, they were wooden before. Without that it would have gone up a lot quicker.”
Peter, who said he’s been at the property for the last seven years, said there were gas canisters in the caravan, which had been kept at the front of the house since September.
“It was my father-in-law’s,” he explained. “He’s moved into his fiancée’s in Adlington and stored it here for a couple of months before they got settled.”
He added: “Marie was actually coming back from the hospital, she was here until about 3.15am.
“I said ‘give me your phone number and I’ll send you some flowers because you’ve saved my life’.”
Neil Mitchell, acting watch manager at Chorley Fire Station, said “The two men were very lucky this lady was passing at the time.
“Things could have a been a lot worse. The fire had spread to the front of the house and fortunately the occupants managed to escape through the rear.”
It is believed the caravan, parked in front of the house, was well alight when the unnamed driver spotted it and called 999.
By the time fire crews from Chorley and Bamber Bridge arrived the caravan was well alight and flames had spread to the front of the house, damaging windows, a portion of roofing and guttering.
Neither of the occupants needed hospital treatment.