VALIANT firefighters who rescued a quick-thinking mum and her children as flames tore through their home have been hailed as heroes.
Abbi Mann feared she and her two young daughters would die when the fire broke out at their Chesterfield home.
But firefighters responded within moments and found the family huddled under a wet blanket in the bathroom.
Tearful Abbi said: “All I can say is thank you so, so much for saving our lives.”
Abbi had fallen asleep downstairs on Friday night when a smoke alarm alerted her to the fire, which started in the kitchen.
The 30-year-old dialled 999 as she rushed upstairs to frantically grab her daughters, Elle, five, and Poppy, two.
Crucially, a fire service operator told Abbi to stay upstairs with her children and huddle together under a wet blanket on the floor of a room with the door firmly shut to keep toxic fumes out.
Brave Abbi said: “All I wanted to do was save my daughters – they mean the world to me.
“When we were crouched under that blanket, I thought we were going to die. The fire was getting hotter and it felt like the whole house was going to go up in flames.”
But help was just moments away.
Firefighters from Chesterfield and Staveley stormed into the house, on Mitchell Way, New Whittington, at about 11.30pm, found Abbi and her children and carried them to safety.
The family were taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital where they were treated for smoke inhalation.
On Wednesday, courageous Abbi, Elle and Poppy – who lost her birthday presents in the blaze – met some of those involved in their rescue at Chesterfield Fire Station in a get-together organised by the Derbyshire Times.
Abbi said: “I just can’t thank my rescuers enough.
“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think we’d be here right now – I’ll never forget their bravery.”
She added she had received “crucial” support from other emergency services as well as members of the community and she thanked them too.
Poppy’s dad, Douglas Storey said the firefighters were “true heroes”.
Gary Platts, station manager at Chesterfield, said an “absolute tragedy” was averted by the smoke alarm.
A fire service spokesman confirmed the blaze – which is not being treated as suspicious – was accidental.
l DERBYSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service has stressed the importance of having a working smoke alarm and urged people to consider a number of life-saving tips. To read these, see this week’s Derbyshire Times.