Police help rescue families from Normacot blaze on Alexandra Road
QUICK-THINKING police officers averted a major fire after investigating what they believed to be burning wood.
Community support officers Mike Shenton and Leanne Sharratt were out on foot patrol in Normacot when they spotted smoke coming from a house on Alexandra Road.
The pair then began to evacuate neighbours in case the fire spread and made an emergency call to Staffordshire Fire and Rescue service.
Their speedy responses ensured the fire was dealt with and neighbours were kept out of harm's way.
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PCSO Shenton, who is based at Longton police station, said: "We were walking around on a normal foot patrol in Normacot when we smelled smoke.
"I thought it was burning wood at first. Once we got on Alexandra Road we could see there was smoke coming from the roof of what looked like two houses."
As smoke poured from the roof of the terraced property, PCSO Shenton and his colleague made sure the property was vacant.
He said: "Our main priority was to make sure the house was empty because we didn't know if the fire was going to spread.
"We knocked on the neighbours and called for the fire service, who did an excellent job."
The fire had started accidentally in a second floor bedroom after a heater was left on too close to a computer.
The family were not in the property at the time and are now faced with four months of repair work before they are allowed to return back home.
More than 10 neighbours were asked to leave their houses as the fire threatened to spread at around 3.30pm on Saturday.
Michael Wade, aged 67, a retired slip maker at Wedgwood said: "The first we knew that anything was wrong was when the police knocked on the door.
"The smoke was pouring out of the roof but it hadn't set any of our alarms off. We thought it was ours at first because the smoke was so thick.
"It has made a terrible mess of next door and it was lucky that the police saw it in time before it spread."
Today the officers have been praised by senior officers.
Chief Inspector Mark Dean, commander of Stoke-on-Trent South Local Policing Team, said: "A key role of community support officers is being highly visible in the community and engaging with local people. PCSOs carry out regular patrols on their patch and respond to issues raised by the local community.
"On this occasion two PCSOs were in the right place at the right time and were able to raise the alarm with their colleagues and those at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
"The officers were able to assist local people in leaving their homes while the fire service made the affected house and surrounding properties safe, and took steps to reassure residents. This is a great example of PCSOs doing what they do best – serving their local community."