A ‘heroic’ passerby has rescued the assistant manager of a burning pub after a blaze broke out in Forest Hill this morning.
Two people were taken to hospital after a fire spread through the apartment above the Bird in Hand pub on Dartmouth Road.
Asa Holmes, 49, and Monika Lukasova, 42, have been taken to Lewisham Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after escaping from a their home above the pub that they run together.
Mr Holmes, the pub’s assistant manager, was pulled out of the burning building by a passerby – after Lukasova, the manager, managed to flee but was screaming that he was still in the building.
Witnesses said Mr Holmes was either unconscious or asleep when the rescuer, who said he was a gravedigger, grabbed him and dragged him barely conscious down the stairs.
Sioux Bloomer, 56, of Sydenham Park road, has known the owners for 16 years and was concerned when she saw smoke rising from their pub on her way to the station this morning.
She said: “I was just walking down Dartmouth Road to go to the train station and saw a lot of people by the job centre [opposite the pub] standing outside.
“By the time I got to the pub there was smoke coming out of all the windows.
“Monika had got out of the back exit door and was shouting that Asa was still up there.
“A man, who was about 30, and I think is a regular at the pub, went in and pulled Asa out before the fire brigade turned up.
“The man was checked over and seems okay but Monika and Asa are both on oxygen and on their way to Lewisham hospital to be checked over.
“They are very shaken up but there are no serious injuries other than smoke inhalation.”
Abigail Ball, a PA for a City insurance company, said: “I drove past, saw what was happening – and parked illegally. The windows upstairs were breaking in the heat.
“A woman was screaming that someone was still trapped inside.
“I tried to bash in the front door and this other man got in the side door – through the front window, I saw him go through the bar and up the stairs.
“When they came out – it must have been two or three minutes later – their faces were totally blackened with the smoke. I rubbed the rescued man’s back to calm him and just doing that blackened my hand too.
“It was weird – I would not normally go that way or go there on a Wednesday, so it was just lucky I was there.
“It was good to see so many people doing what they could.
“I was happy not to get a parking ticket – and so was the rescuer who pulled the other man out.”
Around 40 firefighters were at the scene to help tackle the blaze that had taken over most of the first floor of the building.
Eight fire engines, ambulances and police vehicles also attended and all traffic was been diverted away from the scene.
Many locals witnessed the blaze after smoke billowed from the building at around 9am this morning.
There are now eight fire engines, Ambulance services and police vehicles on the scene – the road is blocked off but pedestrians can still walk through #ForestHill @SthLondonPress pic.twitter.com/KvIptQ0nPb
— Lottie Kilraine (@LKilraine) April 14, 2021
Eve Watson, 24, who works at Finches Emporium on Perry Vale heard multiple sirens on her way to work.
She said: “There was so much smoke so it seemed like a big fire.
“I was walking to work along Perry Vale towards Forest Hill Station and I saw smoke rising above the houses.
“I heard lots of sirens coming up Dartmouth Road fighting through the traffic.
“It was just before 9am and I could hear the sirens all morning.”
The London Fire Brigade issued a statement at around 10pm that said: “The pub fire in Forest Hill is now under control but firefighters remain on the scene.
“Three people left the building before the Brigade arrived and were treated on the scene by London Ambulance crews.”
There have been delays to traffic around the Dartmouth road area all morning as a result.
- Do you know who saved Asa Holmes from the flames? Contact us at 03300 580 680 so we can hail his heroism in the South London Press.
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