Firefighters reunite with quick-thinking neighbour

Jon Thornber kept a calm head and worked with emergency services following fire and explosion in Portsmouth

Jon Thornber

Published

02/11/2021 11:05am

Author

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service

Firefighters have paid tribute to the life-saving actions of a neighbour following a devastating gas explosion.

Southsea’s Blue Watch welcomed Jon Thornber into their station with open arms to thank him for his bravery.

Jon, a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, was one of the first on the scene after the explosion and fire at Nelson Avenue in Portsmouth on Friday 22 October.

After dialling 999, the 41-year-old guided one man to safety and then entered the house to rescue the female occupant from the building.

Watch Manager Simon Morford said:

“When we arrived, we found Jon and other neighbours were already giving first aid to the injured occupants.

“They had sorted cooling buckets and were working alongside one of our firefighters to use our hose reel to cool their burns further.

“We later found out that Jon had forced his way into the property, despite the fire, and pulled the lady to safety.

“While we would never want anyone to put themselves in harm’s way, his heroic actions undoubtedly saved her life.

“We wanted to thank Jon for the calm way he responded and thought he deserved to be recognised for his bravery.”

Jon and his eight-year-old son, Alfie, enjoyed a visit to Southsea Fire Station on Saturday, with a tour around the appliance bay and a chance to see the engines up close.

Jon said:

“As soon as I got in front of the property, I knew it had been an explosion of some kind. What happened is all a bit of a blur but when I saw the lady was still inside, I jumped over the debris. It was only three or four steps, but we needed to get her out, so I put her over my shoulder.

“Everyone was rallying around to help. There was a real community spirit, with people organising buckets of water and blankets.

“The firefighters were there so quickly. That was the amazing thing, and we could see how they just got on with it.”

More than 30 firefighters were called to tackle the incident and worked quickly to prevent the fire from spreading to neighbouring properties.

Fire investigators found that the most likely cause of the explosion was a gas leak from within the property.

WM Morford has now nominated Jon for a Chief Fire Officer’s commendation and an award from The Society for the Protection of Life from Fire.

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