Harrogate hero honoured after running into a burning building to save lady

18 February 2013
Wesley McKenna, with his son George (in front) and Jack with Group Manager Mal Austwick and members of the watch who attended the incident.
Wesley McKenna, with his son George (in front) and Jack with Group Manager Mal Austwick and members of the watch who attended the incident.

Wesley Mckenna was honoured today (18 Feb 2013) for his action in rescuing an elderly lady from a burning building in Harrogate.

On the 31 October 2012, Wesley was. for the first time, trick or treating with his son George and wife. They had planned to just go around a couple of streets and were on Fairways Avenue.

His wife that noticed a smell of burning in the air and Wesley told his wife to carry on trick or treating while he went to investigate.

He soon found a property on fire, with a number f the neighbours outside. Going to the rear of the property he could see that the kitchen was well-alight. He thought for w few seconds and then took the decision to open the side door and shouted in “is anybody there?”

Through the smoke he couldn’t see anybody but then he heard a lady say “help me, help me”


Wesley said:

I looked at the ceiling and could see the light fittings dropping out and thought she hasn’t got long in there.


Wesley ran into the building, through the smoke that he described as not being able to see the hand in front of his face, and found the lady. He then lead her to safety through the door he had entered with debris falling from the ceiling.

Wesley received his award from Group Manager, Mal Austwick:

Mal said:

On 31 October 2012, units were mobilised to Fairways Avenue in Harrogate following reports of a person inside a bungalow on fire.

When they arrived they had committed 4 fire fighters with breathing apparatus and two hose reels.

The fire involved a kitchen of the bungalow that was quickly brought under control.

What Mr Mckenna did was a very heroic act, however on this occasion he was lucky not become a casualty himself as he is not trained to deal with incidents like this, but very well done.

The award the Chief Fire Officer’s certificate of merit was given in acknowledgement of his actions in leading a member of public from the dangers of a fire to safety.

Wesley needed to take the following day off work as a result sickness due to inhaling smoke.

The fire was started by a chip pan in the kitchen and caused 25% fire damage to the kitchen and 10% fire damage to the loft. There was 100% smoke damage to the kitchen and slight smoke damage to the rest of the property.

The 77-lady suffered from dementia and lived with her husband. Her husband didn’t normally leave her alone and on this rare occasion was forced to, but only for a short time. It was unlikely that she would have made her way to safety herself.


Wesley added:

I wouldn’t have been able to live with my own conscience if I hadn’t of acted and done something.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Go toTop