Quick-thinking nine-year-old praised for raising alarm to flat fire

A nine-year-old Sleaford schoolgirl was the hero of the hour when she raised the alarm after spotting a fire in a flat.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 4:31 pm

Josephine Russell was playing with her six year old brother, Alexander, in a friend’s garden in Stamford after attending a dentist’s appointment in the town on Thursday afternoon when she saw smoke and flames coming out of am upstairs window.

She said: “I looked up and saw black smoke coming out of a window and realised it was a fire. I went to tell my mummy and her friend.”

The fire had erupted in a flat in St Leonard’s Street in the town at about 1pm, in a building occupied by a number of older people.

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Josephine Russell, nine, of Sleaford, with brother Alexander, six, and parents Andy and Eugenia. EMN-210204-152727001

She was told to stay in the garden, while her parents, Andy and Eugenia went to raise the alarm, while their friend Diana Rees dialled 999.

A passing postman, Tim Duff, was a retired firefighter who went to make sure everyone got out of the building and shut off the gas supply to prevent an explosion.

Four fire trucks from Grantham, Stamford and Market Deeping rushed to the scene, along with an ambulance and police.

The flat owner was out at the time and everyone else got out safely, but the flat was severely damaged in the fire.

A view of the smoke-damaged window that Josephine spotted and raised the alarm. EMN-210204-152716001

Josephine said: “My mummy and daddy were diverting traffic as the fire engines blocked the road.

Eugenia said: “We had been relaxing outside in the garden eating cake in our coats. It is an L-shaped garden that runs behind other houses and Josphine saw the black smoke coming out of an open window.

“We are all very proud of her and grateful too. We did not know exactly which property the fire was in and we went knocking on different doors. The postman got into the building and was shouting for people to get out. Luckily he knew what to do.”

She said it is important for parents to teach their children about fire awareness and what to look out for and to warn an adult if they see anything. She added that judging by the responses of the residents it is important to make sure your elderly relatives or neighbours have checked their smoke alarm is working.

William Alvey School pupil Josephine later sent an email to her headteacher Stephen Tapley to explain what an exciting school holiday she was having.

Eugenia said: “The school should also take some credit as they have sessions every year with the local fire brigade where they are taught what to do.”