A HEROIC husband and wife police team who rescued their elderly neighbours from a burning house in the middle of the night have won bravery awards.

Dog Handler PC Dave Bridge and his wife Samantha - who is also a member of Essex Police staff - were asleep at home in Corringham when they were woken at 3.30am by a loud explosion in June last year.

It emerged that their neighbours’ house had been struck by lightning and had caught fire.

“I was dead to the world,” recalls PC Bridge.

“And the biggest.. I could only describe it as an explosion or bang, I think I’ve ever heard woke me up instantly, shook the house.”

Echo: Lightning strike - the roof up in flamesLightning strike - the roof up in flames (Image: Essex Fire and Rescue Service)

The couple were aware that the elderly residents of the next door house had mobility issues and would be unable to get out by themselves. They also had a number of pets.  

PC Bridge and Mrs Bridge ran over to the house, where other neighbours had already gathered and were banging on the windows.

They managed to wake the elderly man, who was able to open the door before both PC Bridge and Mrs Bridge rushed into the house through the thick smoke to rescue their neighbours.

The woman was at the back of the house and hadn’t heard the explosion, while the couple navigated their way through falling debris from the ceiling to get to her.

Mrs Bridge woke her and helped her out of the house, while PC Bridge picked up the six dogs and one cat one by one and carried them out.   

“All the time the house was just filling up with smoke and the ceiling fell down while we were in there,” says PC Bridge.

“By the time we’d finished, pretty much the whole top of the house was engulfed.”

Echo: Smoke - the couple and all their pets were rescued from the homeSmoke - the couple and all their pets were rescued from the home (Image: Essex Fire and Rescue Service)

Thankfully, as a result of PC Bridge and Mrs Bridge’s actions, nobody was hurt. They have now received Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards.

Mrs Bridge, a criminal justice support officer, added: “I didn’t really think about it. I just went in. I’m glad they’re out safe. The house is completely being rebuilt, pretty much. They’re not going to live in it for a long time, but I’m grateful that the animals all got out and the people.

“It is nice to be recognised and I’ve told the people in the house about it all and they’re really happy about it. In fairness, all the neighbours were brilliant.

“They all came out, people were making tea and helping look after them until they went off to the hospital.

“I don’t want to take all of the glory, because people did help. They might not have gone in, but they did offer support in different ways.”

Essex Police Federation Chair Laura Heggie said: “What heroes! If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking and bravery of both Dave and Samantha, this incident could have had fatal consequences.

“They acted swiftly to help neighbours in dire need. We are very proud of them and their courage. Running towards the danger in the middle of the night and off duty. What incredible work.”  

The Bridges will attend the Essex Police Federation Bravery Awards on Thursday, May 16.

At the event a winner will be announced who will travel to London for the National Police Federation Bravery Awards in July.