Tenant saved as firefighters rescue pet rats from blazing cottage

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 25, 2012 in Rat News | Subscribe

Tenant saved and pet rats rescued from historic Durham cottage blaze

By Mark Tallentire

FIRE AFTERMATH: Prebends Cottage, in Durham City, where a man escaped a blaze after being helped by passing students. Firefighters rescued his three pet rats

FIREFIGHTERS braved a flaming 18th Century cottage to rescue three rats.

Historic Prebends Cottage, off Prebends Bridge, in Durham City, was engulfed by flames on Thursday evening, in a blaze which fire investigators believe was started accidentally.

The only person in the cottage at the time, a man aged about 50, was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

But after his partner, in her 40s, returned to find their home ablaze and told of her three pet rats trapped inside, firefighters went back into the burning building to bring them to safety.

All three caged creatures were rescued, returned to their owner and are said to be recovering well.

Fire investigator Peter McDermott said: “We would always attempt to rescue pets. If it’s humanly possible, we will do it.

“We will risk a life to save a life and we will put ourselves in danger to do humanitarian work and prevent damage.”

Prebends Cottage, a small sandstone building, is thought to date from about 1771.

It was previously a gatehouse for Prebends Bridge, which controlled access to Durham’s peninsula, home to Durham Castle and Cathedral.

Also known as Clarney’s Cottage after an early 20th Century occupant, it is owned and rented out by Durham Cathedral.

In recent times, it has become popular with newlyweds wanting to pose outside for photographs.

A cathedral spokeswoman said it would be looking into restoring and repairing the grade II-listed building.

Its structure is not thought to be severely damaged but possessions, including many musical instruments, were ruined.

The fire, which started in the cottage’s bedroom, was reported at about 6.15pm by three Durham University students.

One, Holly Page, who was out running, said: “There was a lot of smoke coming out of the windows.

“We started hammering on the door to get the man to come out.

“His hands were badly burned. We walked him up to the road.”

Mr McDermott praised the students for their response.

The cottage’s male occupant was still being treated in hospital last night. His partner was treated at the scene for shock.

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