A Wigan family endured a nightmare Bonfire Night when a stray firework completely destroyed a shed and caused £2,000 of damage.
Gary Hart and wife Bev were watching TV at their home on Dovedale Road in Ashton with his son Jack and his girlfriend Callie Beresford when they noticed the flames.
We were sat watching the X-Factor when my wife said there was a glow at the back window. My son got up to have a look and very calmly said the shed was on fireGary Hart
Mr Hart, who is in partial remission for prostate cancer, bravely stepped in to prevent the blaze reaching the house but collapsed from the smoke and had to be given oxygen therapy by paramedics.
The blaze, which happened at around 8.15pm on Saturday night, reduced garden furniture and equipment to charred wreckage along with three fence panels and the shed, which had recently been purchased as a respite present for Mrs Hart as she is her husband’s carer.
The 49-year-old today thanked his kind-hearted neighbours who rushed to help out and even returned on Sunday morning to install some temporary fencing in the garden and power wash the blackened walls.
He said: “We were sat watching the X-Factor when my wife said there was a glow at the back window. My son got up to have a look and very calmly said the shed was on fire.
“We took it as a joke at first but he said he was serious and we needed to call the fire brigade. We have an outhouse attached to the kitchen and I could see flames coming underneath the door so I started throwing bowls and buckets of water on all the brickwork and floor. It was terrifying.
“I didn’t know how bad it was, I was just trying to keep the fire at bay. It was chaos and then the smoke got the better of me. The damage is heartbreaking, especially the shed which was bought for Bev because she loves gardening.
“The neighbours were absolutely fantastic. People we’ve never even spoken to were rushing to connect their hosepipes and doing whatever they could outside.
“A lot of them returned on Sunday morning and put temporary fencing up and were brushing and cleaning up. The community on the Landgate estate is fantastic, they just came from nowhere to help.”
Mr Hart said he particularly wished to thank four residents, who he knows only as Ste, Catherine, John and Martin, for their efforts during the fire and its aftermath.
He also praised the fire service for its work on one of the busiest nights of the year and the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).
As well as gutting the shed and fencing the blaze melted gutters, burnt the roof of the outhouse and cracked windows at the back of the house.
Mr Hart, who spent 26 years working in the health service, also warned Wiganers about just how dangerous Bonfire Night can be.
He said: “One stray firework has caused all this mayhem through a pure accident.
“Before this I always enjoyed fireworks and hoped Bonfire Night would be calm and dry so children could go outside with their parents and sparklers and enjoy it safely.
“Now I just hope it pours down every single Bonfire Night for the future. I think that would be a big help to the fire brigade as well.”