WITHOUT thinking about his own safety, an Overport man ran into his neighbours’ house while it was engulfed in flames, determined to save the couple trapped inside.
During the early hours of last Friday morning, Kevin Naiker, who lives in Juniper Street, was woken by what he described as the sound of “gunfire” coming from across the road.
When Naiker, a plumber, realised his neighbours’ house was ablaze, he knew they were in danger. Fuelled by adrenalin, he scaled the 2m-high boundary wall to get to the burning house.
After knocking down windows and a burglar guard, Naiker was able to free Dru Raymond and her partner Craig Hohls, who were lying unconscious on the floor.
“He’s my hero. Craig and I owe our lives to him,” said Raymond, who had moved into the house with Hohls two weeks earlier and had never met Naiker before this near- death experience.
“Both Craig and I are attending trauma counselling sessions after that ordeal. I can’t remember how the fire started. Our electricity was not turned on at that time, so we were using candles. I suspect our cat Molly may have knocked a candle over that night.
“The only thing I remember clearly from the night was lying outside my house and Kevin trying to bring me back to consciousness.
“He’s a real hero. Craig and I wouldn’t have been alive had it not been for him. I’m amazed at his act of bravery. Having not known him before the incident, I now know he’s a really kind and humble person,” Raymond said.
But Naiker said he could never live with himself if Raymond and Hohls had been killed by the blaze and he hadn’t tried to save them.
Hohls had to spend the night in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, having inhaled excessive amounts of smoke.
“If I didn’t do something to help and they died, the guilt would have been too much to bear,” said Naiker.
Recounting his heroic act, Naiker said: “I was awoken by the sound of gunfire, which turned out to be the roof of Dru’s house exploding.
“My wife called the fire department.”
But the high walls around the house prevented easy access. Naiker’s only way in was to scale the high walls of neighbouring properties.
Once he got into Raymond’s yard he started to bash in windows to check if anyone was inside.
He saw Raymond’s feet from one of the side windows, but a burglar guard prevented him from getting in.
“I found a small wooden ladder outside and with two solid hits the guard was out,” Naiker said.
“I jumped into the house and shoved Dru through the same window I entered. At the same time a huge beam from the room came crashing to the floor, near where I was positioned,” he said.
Hohls was rescued by Naiker when he kicked down a back door together with a fireman who had just arrived at the scene.
Raymond is planning to rebuild the 110-year-old house that was gutted by the fire.
“I’m so overwhelmed by the generosity of so many people who have assisted with clothing and cash,” said Raymond.
She added that Molly was found in a neighbour’s yard and has since been moved to a cattery.