An Accrington firefighter spent the last day of his 25-year career saving a woman from a burning house.
Colin Western, 51, rescued the woman from an upstairs bedroom in her burning home in Petre Crescent, Rishton, in the early hours of last Sunday morning.
But hero Colin has not even seen the face of the woman he rescued as she was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation immediately after being rescued.
Colin, who joined the fire service at 26, said: "As we pulled up in the crescent we could see lots of smoke billowing out of an upstairs bedroom.
"Me and my colleague Julian Warwick entered the property wearing breathing apparatus and began to search the house.
"When I was in the front bedroom I heard a very faint cry for help, blindly I manoeuvred myself around the bedroom to find the woman. When you are in a house the smoke is so thick you cannot see your hand before your face.
"I just can’t believe this happened on my last shift. Rescues like this, where an individual fireman is directly responsible for saving a life, just don’t happen very often.
"In my whole career I’ve only had four, and for the fifth time to be in my last shift it’s amazing. However, this is definitely a team result and the lads on Blue Watch are a great team."
The woman, in her 40s, was asleep when the fire started at 3.15am on Sunday.
When she woke neighbours heard her screams and called the fire brigade, while one man, Neil Mounsey, climbed a ladder to her window and tried to keep her calm.
Firefighters spent nearly two hours tackling the fire, which wrecked the woman’s kitchen and coated furniture and belongings throughout the home in black soot.
However, they were unable to rescue her Westie dog Olly, who died in the kitchen, where the fire is believed to have started.
Crew manager Neil Cooper said: "Colin’s last act as a fireman was saving someone’s life.
"We will miss Colin without a doubt and his replacement will have big shoes to fill. Twenty five years is a long time and you can’t buy that knowledge. It’s going to be very strange without him."
A police spokesman said the woman was now doing well and had been discharged from hospital. He added: "Specialist fire investigators are now working at the scene to determine how the fire was started."
To kick off his retirement Colin, from Green Haworth, is planning a farewell weekend in Malaga with his fellow firefighters. He also plans to watch the Tour De France and take a holiday in California.