Neighbour helps couple escape fire

ARGENTON resident Ben Saunders – and his incessantly loud voice – may well have saved the lives of a neighbouring couple caught inside a suburban inferno.

As flames began to take hold late on Tuesday, there was still no sign of  Bob McGuigan and his wife, Linda, despite the searing noise of fire alarms.

So Mr Saunders jumped his fence and started bashing on the door and yelling ‘‘like I never thought I could’’.

‘‘It was just a matter of banging on the door until they opened it,’’ Mr Saunders said.

‘‘I was just thinking ‘holy crap’, the flames were building so quickly.

‘‘If they hadn’t got out when they did, I don’t think there was much more time – I don’t think they would have made it.’’

Mr McGuigan, 60, suffered second-degree burns to 35per cent of 

his body after his attempts to fight the flames caused injuries to his back 

and torso. He was flown to the specialist burns unit of Royal North Shore Hospital early yesterday for treatment and was listed as being in a stable condition last night.

His injuries were not considered life-threatening.

Mrs McGuigan suffered smoke inhalation and was treated at John Hunter Hospital.

Lake Macquarie investigations manager Detective Senior Sergeant Chad Gillies said the source of the fire could not be determined, although there was no evidence that it was suspicious.

A report would be prepared for the coroner, as part of the guidelines for all blazes where the sources could not be determined.

The blaze has razed the couple’s home, destroyed their car and entire contents.

Neighbour Darren Metcalfe said there was only several minutes from when he woke to some noises to when the house was fully engulfed with flames.

He said his neighbour had suffered burns to his back and was taken into Mr Metcalfe’s backyard, where they used water to cool his injuries while they waited for paramedics to arrive.

‘‘They have lost everything. ‘‘He only got out with a pair of pants,’’ Mr Metcalfe said.

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