Local man Noel Cochrane has said he was ‘honoured’ to receive an award recognising his role in saving his neighbours from a house fire in Rathfriland.
Noel was presented with an award by officers and members of Moneyslane Orange Lodge for his quick-thinking in raising the alarm as the fire raged in the early hours of December 22, last year.
A family was forced to flee their home with their young daughter during the night when a fire started at a recycling plant which spread to their Kiltarriff Drive home.
Describing the events of the evening, Noel said: “I heard a noise and looked through the window and then saw the flames.
“I sort of panicked but I ran out and rapped on the door,” he explained.
“The smoke was billowing out so I had to run away back, you couldn’t see anything the smoke was so thick, but they heard the rapping.
“The smoke was flying everywhere, there was a strong wind that night.
Noel continued: “They came out of the house one by one and came over to our house. We gave them clothes and water, and shortly after the fire brigade and ambulance arrived.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said of the fire.
Rebecca Peden, her husband Andrew and young daughter Daisy were saved due to Noel’s bravery in alerting the family.
Speaking shortly after the fire, which destroyed the family’s home and possessions, just days before Christmas, Rebecca said her husband initially woke her saying ‘the place is on fire’.
Rebecca commented: “He said later someone was banging at the door but he was half sleeping and we can’t thank our neighbour enough.”
Fire appliances from Newry, Warrenpoint and Banbridge attended along with a dedicated command support unit from Lisburn.
It took over 40 firefighters to fight the fire, with conditions particularly difficult due to high winds.
Noel was delighted to be surprised by the lodge with his award. “I am very honoured” he said. “I didn’t know I was getting anything but it is a really lovely thing.”