How Leeds’ heroic 12-year-old saved neighbour from fire

Quick-thinking: Christian Barnes-Whittaker, with grateful neighbour Christine Hartley. Picture: Steve Riding.
Quick-thinking: Christian Barnes-Whittaker, with grateful neighbour Christine Hartley. Picture: Steve Riding.
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A brave youngster who raised the alarm after a fire broke out in a neighbour’s flat has been hailed as a hero in the community.

Christian Barnes-Whittaker, 12, was playing outside his dad’s flat at Lidgett Park Court in Roundhay with a remote controlled car.

And after smelling smoke, the Allerton High School pupil leaped into action and ran to the flats to raise the alarm on Sunday.

He tracked down the site’s caretaker and told his dad David about the smoke, which was coming from neighbour Christine Hartley’s flat.

The youngster even directed the fire engine by himself into the flats, where firefighters found Mrs Hartley, who had suffered smoke inhalation after her carpet caught fire while she was asleep.

Mrs Hartley, 59, said: “What he did was amazing.

“If it hadn’t been for Christian, no-one would have knocked on my door, and I might never have woken up.

“I think an extension lead blew up while I was asleep, the carpet was giving off toxic fumes. It could have been a lot worse.”

She said Christian’s quick-thinking and bravery brought a tear to her eye.

Mrs Hartley, who was given oxygen at the scene for smoke inhalation, added: “He is a credit to his parents.

“If there were more little boys like him, it would be a much better world.

“It was lovely thing to do for a young man of his age, to do something so unselfish - it brought a tear to my eye.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it responded to a call at 1.25pm on Sunday to the fire at Lidgett Park Court, off Lidgett Park Road.

Christian’s proud mum, Wendy Barnes, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I came round after and gave him a cuddle because he was a bit shaken.

“This doesn’t happen every day so he was a little bit overwhelmed.”

She said neighbours in the flats praised the quick-thinking youngster.

Miss Barnes, 50, added: “All of the neighbours were congratulating him and saying to him how well he had done.

“The firefighters were talking to him as well and saying he had done a really good job.

“It was all off his own back. He has always been very thoughtful and caring. I’m really proud of him.

“People keep saying to him ‘oh you did really well’, but he just sort of shuns it and says that ‘anyone would have done it’.”

Christian, who lives in Moortown with his mum, was visiting his dad last weekend when the fire started at the neighbour’s flat.

He said: “I just feel happy and I’m glad that she is okay.

“I was worried when I smelt the smoke and heard the fire alarm going off.”

Ian Beaumont of KPMG

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