A 13-YEAR-OLD girl who sprang into action to save her profoundly deaf sister from a house fire has been rewarded for her selfless bravery.

Sarah Middleton led 16-year-old sister Emily from the family home in the Teesdale village of Butterknowle, County Durham, as it became engulfed in flames on Bonfire Night last year.

Susan Johnson, chief executive of Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, presented Sarah with a special commendation at the service’s headquarters in recognition of her bravery today (Thursday, February 13).

Sarah and Emily were upstairs in their bedrooms when a bag of textiles close to a portable heater ignited in the living room.

William Coatsworth, 19, who was waiting for his girlfriend - older sister Amy Middleton, 17 - to return home from a shopping trip with the girls’ mother Angela, tried to remove the bag but inadvertently spread the flames throughout the house.

Hearing the smoke alarms fitted in the house, Sarah left her room to see smoke rising up the stairs.

She quickly went back up the stairs to alert Emily who was sitting on her bed playing with her laptop - unaware of the noise from the smoke alarms.

Sarah led her to the only passable exit at the back of the house.

She said: “It was really scary, but my first thought was for my sister. It all happened so fast I didn’t really have time to think.”

Sarah and Emily were taken to hospital for precautionary checks and Mr Coatsworth was treated to burns to his hands, arms and legs. Sadly the family cat perished in the fire.

Praising Sarah for her actions Susan Johnson said: “Sarah is the youngest person to have received this award from Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service and her selfless actions meant that both girls escaped from their house.

“This incident could have been far worse if Sarah had not reacted so quickly to the fitted smoke alarms. Sarah should be very proud of the way that she behaved in this very frightening situation.”

Mum Angela Middleton said: “We’re all very pleased and relieved that Sarah, Emily and William escaped the fire.

“It was a very traumatic night for us all and very frightening for them to be in such a dangerous situation.

“Everything happened so quickly and we’re pleased that Sarah was so brave and quick to respond, we’re very proud of her.”