DENNIS Wootley was relaxing in his garden, doing the crossword, when he saw his neighbour running into her back garden – on fire. Without so much as stopping to think, he hurdled the fence, ripped the burning top from her back and rushed to call the emergency services who were on the scene within minutes. Lorraine Quartey, 40, needed skin grafts to both of her arms, but without Dennis's heroic intervention it could have been much worse. "I'm so thankful to him, I wouldn't have known what to do, he probably saved my life," she said. Lorraine was cooking dinner for her two children at about 3pm last Friday when she leaned over, catching her top on the hob. Seto, 5, and Senan, 2, were playing in the garden of their mum's Wentworth Road, Broad Green, home at the time and were shocked and frightened to see her ablaze. "Senan was shouting, 'fire, fire, fire'," she added. Dennis, 60, who used to work as a carpenter, said he was just "sitting, minding his own business" in his garden when he heard a scream from next door. "I was just sitting there and I heard from next door, Lorraine was shouting from the kitchen then I heard 'Dennis, Dennis, help!'," he said. "She started to run out and she was on fire, her top half was completely on fire." Dennis sprung into action, leaping over his fence. "Your first reaction is to go and help her, I didn't even notice I had no slippers on," he said. "It's adrenaline that takes over, you don't really think about it. "You see a woman on fire, you go and help. "The firefighters say I hurdled the fence, but it was more like I bungled my way over however I could. "We ripped all her top off which was completely burnt already, and she was on the ground to put the fire out. It left scorch marks all over the garden." With the fire out, Lorraine pleaded with Dennis for a bucket of water, but he instead quickly called the emergency services. It took the fire brigade just three and a half minutes to arrive, and the police and ambulance shortly followed. "The emergency services couldn't have done any more, they were so quick it was like they came out of the sky," said Dennis. "They were here almost by the time I got back to the garden." Lorraine was taken to Croydon University Hospital but then transferred to the specialist burns unit at Chelsea and Westminster. She was allowed home after a night in hospital, but had to return for skin grafts on Wednesday. Friends on their street have since come up with a new nickname for Dennis. "They've been taking the mick, calling me 'the local hero', like the film, but I don't know about that," he said. "She's on fire, you have to go do something don't you? You're not gonna stand and watch her burn." Dennis and Lorraine, neighbours in Broad Green for three years, have since been chatting about their blisters and scars from the fire. Lorraine said: "He brought a pizza round and made sure I was ok. We're quite friendly neighbours."
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