A modest father-of-two, who, without any regard for his safety, ran into a burning North End house in Portsmouth to rescue a mother and her son has said, “I just did what needed to be done and I didn’t give it a second thought.”
Courageous Jon Thornber leapt into action after hearing his neighbours’ home in Nelson Avenue explode on Friday (22nd) afternoon.
The 41-year-old Petty Officer, based at HMS Collingwood, raced to the scene with his partner, Gemma, to help.
With flames already engulfing the terraced property, they called the emergency services before Jon heroically ran into the building to search for survivors.
Once in the house, Jon spotted a male in the garden ‘confused and dazed and suffering from burns’.
Debris blocked the front gate, and Jon kicked this aside, guiding the man to safety, before noticing an elderly woman trapped in the hallway.
The windows, doors and frames of the property had all been blown out by the blast and this, together with her injuries, meant she was unable to escape the flames which were rapidly spreading inside the property.
Shouting reassurance and with no thought of his safety, Jon re-entered the burning building, lifted her onto his shoulder and ran back through the debris and into the street.
Jon said, “I just did what needed to be done and I didn’t give it a second thought at the time.”
Around 30 firefighters were called to the scene with crews from Cosham, Portchester, Southsea, Havant, Emsworth and HIWFRS’ Urban Search and Rescue Team being sent to the incident
Jon was full of praise for the emergency services, who he described as the ‘real heroes who do this every day.’
He added, “I also want to thank the neighbours who fetched blankets for the couple and buckets of water to cool their burns.
“When the fire service arrived, they asked me to stay with a hose and cool the burns down whilst we waited for the ambulance service.
“During this time, I used my Royal Navy training to keep the victims calm, coherent and as comfortable as possible and tried to get as much information from them to hand over to the ambulance service.”
The two occupants – an elderly mother and her son – suffered severe injuries and were rushed to Southampton General Hospital before being transferred to Salisbury’s Odstock regional centre for burns, plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Since the incident, the police service has contacted Jon to nominate him for a community bravery award.
The fire service has invited him, Gemma, and his two children to the station to thank him personally.
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