A POLICE officer who pulled a woman from a burning Cambridge flat – and then went back for her dog – has been hailed as a hero.
Pc John Millward was first at the scene of the blaze in Ashbury Close, Coleridge, where he was greeted by the sight of smoke pouring out of a ground-floor property and the sound of the woman’s desperate screams.
Flames in the front room blocked her escape, and she had no key for the locked back door – while all the time the flat was filling with smoke.
Pc Millward dashed round to the back of the home and he made the split-second decision to kick in the bottom panel of the door.
He pulled the woman through the gap before crawling back through it himself – emerging moments later with the pet Jack Russell in his arms.
The woman was treated for facial burns and smoke inhalation but last night senior officers said Pc Millward’s brave actions had prevented a tragedy.
Pc Millward, who has been an officer for four years, was modest about what he had done.
He said: “I know people say I might have saved her life but I felt I had to make a choice and in the circumstances I think I made the right choice.
“It was a split-second thing, I didn’t think about what I was doing. This person was in the house and I had to get her out.
“I did what any member of the police, fire or ambulance service would have done. That’s what we’re here for.”
The woman was thought to be in hospital yesterday but neighbours were full of praise for Pc Millward.
Sarah Mitchell, who lives opposite the flat, described how she saw smoke belching out of the windows. She said: “I was on the sofa and I just saw a policeman running past at about 50mph. He was hammering the door with his foot. How he kicked it that hard I don’t know. It’s amazing he got his foot through that door.
“I was going to go the police station and say what a fantastic man he is. When you see something like that it lets you know there are some really good people in the world.
“He saved her life. Without him she wouldn’t be here today. If he hadn’t been here it could have been a horrible story.”
Ms Mitchell, 40, added: “I don’t know if I could have done that. It was such a brave thing to do. If I saw him again I would shake his hand.”
Insp Dominic Glazebrook, Pc Millward’s superior, said the officer should be proud of himself. He said: “It’s not the job of the police to respond to fires but, when police come across these sort of incidents on patrol, they are faced with a split-second decision and John made the heroic decision to do what he did, which is really impressive.
“I’m really proud of his actions, which were in the best traditions of the police service.
“Quite clearly John’s actions have prevented what could have been a tragedy.”
The fire service said the most likely cause of the blaze, just before 2pm on Thursday, was smoking.