Off-duty Gateshead firefighter Andy Lane rescues woman from blaze
An off-duty firefighter who pulled a neighbour to safety by crawling along the floor of her burning home, has been hailed a hero by colleagues.
Andy Lane, of Margaret Terrace, Highfield, Gateshead, was going out in his car when he smelt smoke and heard the woman's screams.
The 37-year-old smashed a window and was about to go in when a neighbour arrived with a back door key.
He then crawled through the house and pulled the woman to safety.
Mr Lane, watch manager of South Shields Community Fire Station in South Tyneside, said he was coming out of his home just before 17:00 GMT on Thursday when he smelt the smoke.
"Instinct just took over. I had to do something.
"When I heard the screaming it just spurred me on. It soon became clear I couldn't break the door down and I could feel the temperature of the fire rising and see the smoke coming through the bricks.
"It couldn't have been more than 40 seconds that I was in there for, but it was incredibly different to doing it with fire kit on.
"There was no doubt that it was becoming a ferocious fire."
The rescued woman was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead where she was treated for the effects of breathing in smoke.
Station manager Gary Yates said: "What Andy did was truly heroic and probably saved the lady's life."