Two bin men have been hailed as heroes after rescuing three children and a young adult from the top floor of a burning building.
Nick Gardner, a Refuse HGV Driver from Southend, and Mark Hewitt, a Refuse Loader from Dagenham, were on their daily round on July 25 when they spotted a fire in Ilford, East London.
Nick said he saw a teenage boy pop his head around the curtain of the top-floor bedroom and because he had already opened his bedroom door, meaning smoke had quickly filled his room.
He told the child to keep his head outside the window to breathe properly, while Mark quickly sourced a ladder to help the child evacuate his top-floor bedroom.
Nick then heroically kicked down the front door, where he was confronted by a house engulfed in flames, EssexLive reports.
Two young boys ran out through the front door to safety.
The young adult also escaped the property by going through a back window. Nick called 999 and alerted the neighbours to the dramatic situation unfolding.
London Fire Brigade attended the scene to manage the fire.
Fortunately, none of the family suffered any serious injuries.
All of them were taken to the hospital by London Ambulance Service after being assessed at the scene.
The fire was controlled but the ground floor was destroyed and the first floor was damaged.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
Nick said: “It was just a typical Monday morning until we saw smoke billowing out of this property.
“When we stopped and pulled the handbrake, I think it alerted the young boy in the front top bedroom.
“I shouted to tell him to keep his head outside the window, as his room was filling up with smoke. I think a neighbour gave me a ladder, and we managed to get the young lad outside to safety.”
Nick added: “I then kicked the front door through, and it was like a scene from London’s Burning, the TV programme from years ago. At that point, two young boys darted through the front door to safety.
“We’re just pleased that no one came to any harm. We then got on with our shift as normal.
“It wasn’t until later that evening that I realised what had happened. These things can take time to sink in.”
Mark, added: “It all happened so quickly. I think the two young boys who managed to escape through the front door showed great bravery in my eyes.
“If we hadn’t been driving down Mortlake Road that morning, I shudder to think what might have happened.”
The Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said: “I am incredibly proud of Nick and Mark.
“They are real-life superheroes. Thanks to Nick and Mark, a tragedy was averted, children’s lives were saved, and a local family was reunited.
“Every day our council staff work incredibly hard delivering vital services for our neighbours across Redbridge, but it’s not every day they are called upon to risk life and limb to literally save lives.
“I always knew our Redbridge staff were exceptional, but the actions of Nick and Mark have just proved the point.”
The Chief Executive of Redbridge Council, Claire Symonds, said: “Nick and Mark showed incredible bravery and resolve.
“Their quick thinking and decisive action saved lives, and we are all so grateful that they happened to be in the right place at the right time to make a real difference. What was also amazing was that after this drama, they then went on to finish their round!”
The Mirror contacted Redbridge Council for a statement.