Three heroes stop to help out in a house fire and pluck child from the flames

THREE men who plucked a 19-month-old child from a burning house in North Nowra on Thursday morning are being hailed as heroes.

Rob Love, Adam Schutz and Ben Smith rescued the girl through a front window of the house that was well alight in Hansons Road, just off McMahons Road.

Emergency services were called to the brick veneer house just before 8.30am with reports the home was well alight as passers-by did what they could to ensure there was no one inside.

There were fears another young girl might have still been inside the dwelling but a search by NSW Fire and Rescue crews failed to locate anyone else in the property. 

The girl, believed to be the older sister of the young child, was later located safe and well.

The toddler, accompanied by her mother, was taken to Shoalhaven Hospital by ambulance as a precaution for possible smoke inhalation.

Two NSW Fire and Rescue crews, Nowra and Shoalhaven, attended the blaze, as well as a number of Rural Fire Service crews from Illaroo Road, Shoalhaven Heads and Cambewarra.  

As firefighters wearing breathing apparatus started to tackle the blaze the roof collapsed and as the fire intensified police evacuated adjoining homes.

Once the fire was under control officers were able to undertake a thorough search of the area.

The trio of rescuers have played down their roles in the rescue before police arrived and attempted another search of the home, saying they just did what anyone would have done.

North Nowra man Rob Love said they were just in the right place at the right time.

“I was driving past on my way to physio – I was running late – so if it hadn’t been for that I probably wouldn’t have been here,” he said.

“I suppose it was fate.

“There were heaps of people milling about, the house was well alight. I wasn’t going to stop but they seemed a bit panicked.”

It was then his military training kicked in.

“We are trained in such situations in the military and I had been a volunteer firefighter for 15 years,” he said.

“Along with a couple of other guys we basically had a look around the home and yelled out to try to ensure no one was still inside.

“We heard no response but when we went back to the front of the house there was an open window – we called out again and through the thick smoke we could make out a figure – it was a little girl – she was about halfway into the room.

“She more came to us rather than us getting to her.”

Mr Love reached inside the burning house, grabbed the young girl and pulled her to safety.

“The other guys had hold of my legs and held me as I grabbed her through the window,” he said.

As the child was taken to safety Mr Love’s other fear was that there may be someone else still inside the property.

“We were told there may still be someone inside,” he said.

“I kicked in the front door and tried to gain entry.

“The smoke was extremely thick, it was down to about six centimetres off the floor.

“I got down low and crawled in, got about two metres in and couldn’t see anything before I was driven back by the heat and smoke.”

Mr Love was quick to downplay his actions.

“I’m no hero, my training just kicked in and I did what I’ve been trained to do.

“These guys,” he said, pointing to Mr Schutz and Smith, “who haven’t had the training but were still in there are the real heroes”.

“I’m no hero. You just try to do the best you can.”

Mr Schutz was on his way to work when he spotted the blaze.

“I just stopped the truck and went to help to see if there was anything I could do,” he said.

“People were coming from all directions, it was amazing to see how many people were involved and how people react to this kind of thing and just want to help.

“It was full-on,” a visibly shaken Mr Schutz said.

“I’ve never done anything like this before, I’m just glad we got the child out.

“We couldn’t see anything inside – there was just too much smoke.”

Mr Smith was just grateful they were able to rescue the girl.

“I just did what I could to help,” he said.

Due to concerns over possible asbestos in the roof of the property, the area was cordoned off for the safety of residents and emergency crews, while Endeavour Energy crews that were also on the scene disconnected power to the property.

A crime scene has been established and police and fire investigators are investigating the possible cause of the blaze.

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