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Man who saved friend from fire in Canterbury left homeless


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A life-saving hero who pulled his friend from a burning house was forced to sleep in his mother’s car as temperatures dipped below zero.

Courageous Ollie Betts, 22, has been left homeless after ceiling-high flames ripped through the semi-detached council home in Sturry Road, Canterbury.

He was later moved to a B&B in Ashford, where he relived the ordeal which almost claimed his housemate’s life.

Ollie Betts who is now homeless after a fire at his home in Sturry Road, Canterbury
Ollie Betts who is now homeless after a fire at his home in Sturry Road, Canterbury

“I was sitting upstairs in my room and I could suddenly smell burning,” he told our sister paper the Kentish Gazette.

“I was checking around my room in case I’d left any electrical things in the wrong place, but everything seemed fine.

“I walked down the stairs and the smell got stronger and then suddenly I heard someone yell, ‘Help me, I’m stuck! Help me!’

“I barged into my housemate’s bedroom and pulled him outside.

“The windows smashed and the flames were as high as the ceiling.”

Smoke damage inside the house
Smoke damage inside the house

Three fire engines and paramedics rushed to the house at 1.15pm on December 30 and Ollie’s housemate was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

While he escaped unharmed, Ollie was told he would have to wait at least five days to be rehomed as council offices were closed for the holidays.

He resorted to sleeping in his mother’s car that night before being moved to the B&B the next day.

His mother, Julie Kris, has been appealing for donations of household items and clothes as everything left in the house has been destroyed by fire or smoke.

The belongings Ollie was able to salvage now sit in a plastic bag.

A fireman inspects the damage
A fireman inspects the damage

“I don’t know what to do,” he said.

“I’m still really shaken up. I can’t believe this has happened.

“You never believe that something like this is going to happen to you. It still hasn’t sunk in.

“I saved my housemate’s life, and if I wasn’t in the house things would’ve been so much worse.

“But now he is in hospital in the warm, and I have nowhere to go.”

Canterbury City Council spokesman, James Mercer, said: “We understand how distressing this situation is for Ollie.

“I saved my housemate’s life, and if I wasn’t in the house things would’ve been so much worse...now he is in hospital and I have nowhere to go” - Ollie Betts

"We have arranged transport for him to come to the offices to meet us so that we can help him to find somewhere more suitable to live.

“Regrettably, the only accommodation we were able to find on the night of the fire was too far out of the district for Ollie – even though we did offer to provide transport.

“We do try and place people in the district if we can.

"However, there is a general shortage of temporary accommodation and it’s sometimes simply not possible.”

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