A COUPLE has been left feeling “devastated” and “empty” after their autistic son was hurt and all their possessions destroyed in a house fire.

Most of Allan and Claire Robson’s family were out at work or school when a fire started in the front room of their home in Ferryhill, County Durham, on Monday morning.

Son Callan, who has autism and often stays up through the night on his computer and sleeps during the day, was in bed and woken by a smoke alarm.

He rushed from his bedroom to the living room, where the fire had started, but was thrown to the ground by an explosion when he opened the door.

Passer-by Andy Greenwood, a dad-of-two, heard Callan shouting and ran into the house to help him to safety.


I’d happily do it again if someone needed help

Andy Greenwood ran into the burning building to help Callan Robson to safety

Andy Greenwood ran into the burning building to help Callan Robson to safety

Mr Greenwood, 30, said: “I heard the bang and the lad screaming, so ran straight in.

“He’d been burnt up his side and face and had flames in his hair, I gently patted him down and walked him out.

“He said the dog was trapped inside so I went back in and tried to find it but it was hiding upstairs, I opened a bedroom door and was thrown right down the stairs and had to get out.

“I’d happily do it again if someone needed help.”

Emergency services arrived at the scene and Callan, who had called his mam, was taken to hospital. He was due to leave on Wednesday after treatment for burns.

Lorry driver Mr Robson, who was working in Scotland at the time of the blaze, said: “Claire had me on Facetime, it was devastating.

“If I’d been close, I’d have been there straight away but was miles away and helpless.

“I felt empty, still do looking at everything we’ve lost. The kids will get new stuff but we’ve lost photos and all sorts. It is devastating.

“We’re just so relieved Callan is alive and thank Andy for helping him.

“To go twice into the house for people you don’t know is incredible, he didn’t have to do it but we’re so grateful.

“He tried to save the dog, Frank, but couldn’t and when Callan and Claire were in the ambulance a firefighter brought in the dog on oxygen, that means a lot at a time like that.”

The Northern Echo:

The family's French bulldog Frank was hiding under a duvet but rescued by firefighters

Mrs Robson, who runs the couple’s café Trays and Mugs, said: “I want to thank everyone who helped – the firefighters, those who were there and helped keep Callan calm and everyone who has helped since.

"Andy, the firefighters, Christine Ferguson from the veg shop, everyone we know has been amazing.”

Mr Robson said the couple and Nathan, 22, Callan, 21, Rio, 14, Romani, 11 and Presley, four, will stay in a hotel and with family in the short term but hope to be together in a house by Christmas.

He said: “It seems unlikely it will be this house, which we rent and plan to buy soon, but so long as we’re all safe that’s the main thing.”

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, and expected to take about four weeks.





The Northern Echo:

Some of the damage at the family's home at the old police station in Dean Bank, Ferryhill



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