News, Culture & Society

Hero neighbour rescues couple from pod on fire in Cheshire

Lydia Wadsworth was asleep when the luxury wooden hut she were staying in set alight

A hero neighbour who rescued a young woman and her boyfriend from a burning ‘glamping’ pod has revealed they are ‘very, very lucky’ to be alive.

Lydia Wadsworth, 20, and her boyfriend Rob McDonnell, 24, were asleep when the luxury wooden hut they were staying in near Frodsham, Cheshire, set alight.

But their cries for help were heard by David Tonks’s daughter Millie, 16, and her boyfriend, Perry McGivern, 19, at his home less than 50 yards away.

Maintenance engineer Mr Tonks went out to investigate and realised Miss Wadsworth and Mr McDonnell were trapped inside the blazing hut.

It is thought the blaze started after clothes and curtains near a wood burning stove, close to the entrance of the pod, caught fire – blocking the couple’s escape.

Mr Tonks said: ‘Her face was all black, she was hanging out of the window shouting for help.’ 

Millie added: ‘She was screaming, ‘He’s burning, he’s burning, we need help.’

It is thought the blaze started after clothes and curtains near a wood burning stove in the structure, close to the entrance of the pod, caught fire - blocking the couple's escape 

It is thought the blaze started after clothes and curtains near a wood burning stove in the structure, close to the entrance of the pod, caught fire – blocking the couple’s escape 

Mr Tonks tried the patio doors, but they were locked from the inside. Instead he ran to get a specialist glass hammer from his car and smashed the doors, before encouraging Miss Wadsworth out.

By this time the fire was out, but the pod was full of thick smoke. The father-of-two found Mr McDonnell collapsed in the corner of the pod but struggled to lift him.

Miss Wadsworth, 20, was staying with her boyfriend Rob McDonnell, 24, (pictured above) when their 'glamping' pod caught fire

Miss Wadsworth, 20, was staying with her boyfriend Rob McDonnell, 24, (pictured above) when their ‘glamping’ pod caught fire

‘I opened the doors and smoke was billowing out, so I covered myself up and went in,’ he said. ‘Rob was in the corner, under the sink. He had collapsed and was unconscious. I just couldn’t move him, so I went back outside and, with another lad who had been staying in another pod, we dragged him out. 

‘Unfortunately, he cut his legs on glass from the doors, but we just knew we had to get him out somehow. We put him in the recovery position and gave him water until the fire brigade arrived. He was mumbling but not really with it.’

Mr Tonks added: ‘It was a real shock, but I just did what anyone would have.

‘It upsets me when people say I’m a hero because there are two people still seriously ill in hospital. I’m not a hero, if it had been my kids I just hope someone else would have done what I did.

‘I got emotional at the end because one of the firemen came to shake my hand and said I had made a real difference. 

‘He said: ‘They wouldn’t have survived without you,’ but I just felt so upset for them. You don’t expect to come away for a weekend and that to happen. It just puts everything into perspective.’

Heroic efforts: David Tonks, who lives 50 yards away from the pods, is pictured with his dog Winter and daughters Liberty, nine, and Millie, 16, and her boyfriend Perry McGivern, 19

Heroic efforts: David Tonks, who lives 50 yards away from the pods, is pictured with his dog Winter and daughters Liberty, nine, and Millie, 16, and her boyfriend Perry McGivern, 19

It is understood the pods have fire alarms, but Millie noted: ‘I could barely hear it. It was a quiet ‘beep, beep, beep,’ quieter than a phone.

‘When I went up to talk to Lydia, who was hanging out the window, you could feel the heat. It was awful. They are both lucky to be alive, a few minutes longer and they would have been dead.’

Mr Tonks added: ‘The fire investigator said a few minutes more and it might have been different. They were very, very lucky.’

Mr McDonnell’s mother, Louise, 48, who works in a pharmacy, said the couple, who had been dating a few months, were lucky to be alive.

The deluxe pods, which are furnished with a double bed, flat-screen television, log burner and sofa, and come with their own private hot tub, cost £250 for a minimum two-night stay

The deluxe pods, which are furnished with a double bed, flat-screen television, log burner and sofa, and come with their own private hot tub, cost £250 for a minimum two-night stay

She said: ‘They were trapped. The only fire escape was by the front door which was right by the wood burner. They couldn’t get out because of the flames.

‘Lydia was screaming and screaming for help. Luckily, there was a girl in a garden nearby, she got her dad who ran over to help. He smashed a window with a hammer and dragged Lydia out, then went back in for Rob.

‘Apparently you couldn’t see anything inside, it was thick with smoke. It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened. We’re just praying they will be OK.’

The couple, who have known each other for two years, had decided to travel from their homes in Wigan for a romantic break at the privately-owned Cheshire Glamping Centre, at the Lady Heyes Caravan and Camping Site, near, Frodsham, last Friday.

The couple had decided to travel from their homes in Wigan for a romantic break at the privately-owned Cheshire Glamping Centre at the Lady Heyes Caravan and Camping Site 

The couple had decided to travel from their homes in Wigan for a romantic break at the privately-owned Cheshire Glamping Centre at the Lady Heyes Caravan and Camping Site 

The deluxe pods, which are furnished with a double bed, flat-screen television, log burner and sofa, and come with their own private hot tub, cost £250 for a minimum two-night stay.

But disaster struck on Saturday evening at around 11.35pm, when clothes close to the burner set alight. It is thought the fire then spread to curtains covering the patio doors.

After being pulled from the burning pod, the couple were taken to a specialist unit at Whiston Hospital in Prescot, Merseyside, where they are currently being treated in intensive care.

In a post on Facebook, business development manager Miss Wadsworth’s family said she had suffered 7 per cent burns to her right arm and ‘severe damage to her respiratory system’.

Miss Wadsworth (above) is in critical care

Miss Wadsworth was trapped inside a 'glamping' pod which caught fire

Miss Wadsworth (above) is in critical care after being trapped inside the pod which caught fire

They said: ‘She can’t speak as she has a ventilation pipe which blocks her voice box.

‘However she has written to ask if we’d write a message to her friends and family thanking them for their kind wishes at such a difficult time… she is making positive progress, which is what we are trying to focus on.’

Self-employed painter and decorator Mr McDonnell, who is still sedated, has suffered internal burns to his lungs.

His mother said: ‘Rob’s in a bad way. We haven’t been able to talk to him, he’s not come round yet.

‘His injuries are internal. Lydia has some internal injuries and burns to her arm, but she is in and out (of consciousness). She can’t speak but is communicating by writing things down.

The fire service said the blaze was caused by clothes being left too close to the log burner

The fire service said the blaze was caused by clothes being left too close to the log burner

‘We’re hoping they will be ok, they have youth on their side. The NHS have been amazing, they have really looked after them.’

A spokesman for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was caused by clothes being left too close to the log burner.

‘It was a well-developed and very smoky fire,’ he said. ‘The cause of the fire is currently under investigation but it is believed to have been started accidentally.’

Yesterday the pod had been fenced off, but fire damage could be seen on the patio door, which had one of its panes smashed. There was also ash and smoke damage on the decking outside.

A spokesman for the campsite claimed the fire was started by a jacket being left on top of the wood-burner when the couple went to bed. This was later denied by relatives.

In a post on Facebook, business development manager Miss Wadsworth's family said she had suffered 7 per cent burns to her right arm and 'severe damage to her respiratory system'

In a post on Facebook, business development manager Miss Wadsworth’s family said she had suffered 7 per cent burns to her right arm and ‘severe damage to her respiratory system’

A former pupil at Cansfield High School in Wigan, Miss Wadsworth has been working for a family run plastics recycling firm in the town for the past three years.

Yesterday hundreds of messages poured in for the ‘beautiful girl’ as she recovers with family and friends by her side.

Close friend Leila Gibbons wrote: ‘I couldn’t be prouder of how strong you have been so far, with you every single step of the way all of you.

‘PS you looked as beautiful as ever today, I love you forever my bestie.’

Another friend, Adam Bewley, said: ‘Stay strong Lydia thinking of you and sending so much love.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.