Exclusive: 80-year-old hero rescues woman from Caroline Gardens inferno

Katherine Johnston (12 November, 2020)

'As we got out the cupboard exploded and fire was licking the ceiling. Then the whole place went up'

40291Firefighters at the flat in Asylum Road.


An eighty-year-old pensioner single-handedly led a woman to safety from a devastating flat fire in Peckham on Bonfire Night.

Retired painter and decorator Dave Moorcroft rushed outside his home in Caroline Gardens after hearing screaming  n the afternoon of Thursday, November 5.

Residents had gathered after seeing smoke shortly before 4pm, with more than a dozen frantic calls made to 999.

Although the elderly resident of the burning flat was out when the blaze began, realising the front door and doors inside were open, quick-thinking Mr Moorcroft went inside to check if anyone else was still in the property.

Mr Moorcroft, who has lived in the terrace for 28 years, told the News: “I went in just by the front door and it was full of smoke. I called out but there was no answer.

“The smoke was coming from the cupboard under the stairs, and you could hardly see.

“I went to the bottom of the stairs and called again and a woman answered.

“She said she couldn’t see because of the smoke, but I told her ‘you’d better get down here because this place is going to blow, soon’.

“She was screaming. She managed to get down and came outside with me.

“Within minutes the place was completely gone.

“As we got out the cupboard exploded and fire was licking the ceiling. Then the whole place went up.”

Video footage shows the windows being blown out and flames burst from the building before fire crews begin hosing the property.

The woman was later taken to hospital to check for smoke inhalation.

Six fire engines and forty firefighters arrived at 4pm and had the blaze under control by 5pm the same night, with crews remaining at the scene damping down.

Mr Moorcroft and his partner were allowed back in their homes by 10pm after safety checks.

The News understands the home’s tenant, who had been outside before the fire advanced, is now in emergency accommodation.

Almost all the home’s ground floor, and half the upper floor, was damaged – and likely most, if not all, his possessions destroyed.

Mr Moorcroft’s neighbours contacted the News to share his heroic actions, saying the residents were all proud of the OAPs  ‘selfless act’.

Neighbour Bryan Emery, who lives with his wife Lea a few doors down, said: “What Mr Moorcroft did, at enormous risk to himself, was a life-saving rescue of a young woman who has her whole life ahead of her.”

Julian says:

This man should be set for a bravery award and especially because he’s my dad,he’s spent his life putting other people first ?

Karen Connolly says:

Having been offered and refused a Caroline Gardens property myself given the defects I encountered I’m not shocked this hasn’t happened more often and it is worth saying just a few years ago Caroline Gardens had a Decent Home Refurbishment including new electrics from a Company called Keepmoat who hasn’t got a good track record given defects and lawsuits other properties in the LB of Southwark yet still I believe on the LBS approved contractors list so be interesting to know the cause of this fire and hope meantime no one dies Southwarks most vulnerable always the victims. Accountability has to be key and why are Southwark still not accountable?

Agree with the above comment too definitely some community recognition due this man and yet again it’s always the residents never the council pick up the pieces come to the rescue.

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