WHEN a fire broke out in a family home, a heroic effort by neighbours and a postman ensured that disaster was averted.

One neighbour grabbed a ladder and pitched it against the side of the house, while another climbed up to lift a boy and a girl, aged two and four, to safety.

The fire, on Elm Avenue, Golborne, broke out as postman Phil Turner was delivering letters in the area just before 9am on Thursday, July 24.

He said: “When I turned into the avenue there was a bit of commotion outside the house. I carried on delivering letters but as I got closer I realised what was going on.

“One of the neighbours had already organised a rescue effort and there was a lad climbing up and down the ladder helping the kids out.

“It was just instinct – I thought I’ve got to help get them out so I gave the front door a boot.

“I made sure everyone was out safely and then just carried on with my round. You come across all kinds of things as a postman but this is definitely the most shocking situation that I’ve come across in my 17 years.”

The family all suffered from smoke inhalation as did one of the rescuers, while another suffered cuts to his hands and legs as he tried to enter the house.

“First and foremost, I want to make it clear that it was the first person on the scene who organised the rescue effort and did the most,” said 35-year-old Phil, who lives in Newton.

“One lad actually went inside the house. If I had arrived a bit earlier maybe I would have played a bigger role.”

Crews from Leigh and Wigan Fire arrived after the family had been rescued and extinguished the fire.

Fire station manager Steve Sheridan said: "The house is on a cul-de-sac and all the neighbours can see each other's homes.

"After seeing the house was on fire one of the neighbours pitched a ladder and rescued two young children, then the postman turned up, shouldered the door in and got their mum out through the front door.

"Another neighbour went round the back and smashed the back door in to try to get them out too.

"They have all done a fantastic job to rescue this family - their actions have potentially saved their lives.

"We think the fire has started in the living room. The firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, which involved a settee in the living room of the house."