A Hastings teenager is being hailed a hero after a split-second decision to jump a 3-metre fence, drag a sleeping man from his bed and extinguish a flaming frying pan.
Claude Stewart-Hudson, 18, was tidying his Eaton St, Hastings flat about 3.30pm on Tuesday when the wails of a near-by smoke alarm caught his attention.
"I was cleaning my kitchen and I could hear the smoke alarm going for about 10 minutes so I came outside to see what was going on and my neighbour yelled out that next door was on fire," he said.
Claude said adrenaline kicked in as he scaled the 3m-high wooden fence separating the weatherboard homes, and ran to his neighbour's back door.
"When I looked it was billowing black smoke out so I thought it was pretty bad. I just went and grabbed the pan and there was black smoke everywhere, all I could see was just the flame. It was covering the stove top and nearly to the roof, I am really surprised it didn't burn it.
"It was pretty scary, I couldn't breathe and when I did it felt like I was breathing heat, it was everywhere," Claude said.
Hastings woman Kelly Hart was visiting her sister at a neighbouring property when the drama occurred, and watched helplessly as smoke and flames spread.
"I noticed the flames about the same time he did," Ms Hart said. "But as soon as he saw the flames in the kitchen he just jumped the fence and ran in and picked up the pan that was on fire and just came running out with it.
"The flames were about 1m high and he just threw it on the ground and put it out, then ran back inside and put the flames out in the kitchen.
"Then he ran back out and asked: 'Is anyone in there? I hope not because when I went in there I couldn't even breathe, I better go in and make sure nobody is in there'."
When Claude went back inside he followed a second smoke alarm to a bedroom where his neighbour, a man in his 40s whom he had met only once before, was asleep.
"I went into his room and he was out of it and the whole top layer was black smoke. It was pretty trippy. I had to hold my breath from the back door.
"I just put his arm over my shoulders and helped him out, he was pretty out of it," Claude said.
Ms Hart said the neighbours watching were calling the teen a hero.
"We think he totally deserves recognition because the guy who just about died was so dazed and didn't really say anything, let alone 'thank you'. [Claude] really deserved to be acknowledged properly for it. He actually put it completely out so we didn't need the fire engine to come, but honestly if it wasn't for this guy, in about 30 seconds the house would have been fully on fire."
Claude's partner, Emma Ngaronoa, also thought he deserved recognition for his brave actions.
"He saved the day," she said.
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