Firefighters have warned lives could be lost after they rescued a man from a flat blaze in Keighley just two hours before a hoax call nearly delayed their response to another genuine emergency.
The Church Street incident began in a three-storey building at about 2.30am on Sunday.
Crews from Keighley, Bingley and Haworth fire stations were called to the blaze in a first-floor flat above a takeaway restaurant. A man was rescued from his top-floor flat.
Another call was received at 5.24am, claiming there was a fire at the Globe Inn pub in Parkwood Street.
When firefighters rushed to the scene, they discovered the call was a hoax.
But only ten minutes later, a genuine emergency alert came for a house blaze in Drewry Road, Highfield.
Keighley crew manager, David Knox, said: “I’d just finished dealing with the malicious call and we were able to go to the other fire, but we could have been late and that could have cost lives.
“These malicious calls also take up valuable resources.”
Mr Knox explained as of this month, Keighley has only one fire engine after the other was lost to budget cuts. If Keighley firefighters have to deal with hoaxes, they cannot attend genuine calls and crews from further away will need to be deployed, delaying response times.
Regarding the first incident, Mr Knox said: “We went in, put the fire out and saved a man from the top floor. He was suffering from smoke inhalation and he received first aid and oxygen therapy.”
The man refused hospital treatment, Mr Knox added. An unattended chip pan caused the blaze. Three other people in the flats made their own way to safety.
Landlord Al Mirzaali, who owns the property containing the flats and takeaway, said most of the damage was smoke-related.
“This was caught at the right time – the fire brigade came very promptly,” he said. “I got a phone call telling me what was happening and I was there by 2.45am. Thank God no one was badly hurt.”
Mr Knox explained a cooker in a basement caused the fire at the terraced house in Drewry Road, but the occupants had managed to get themselves out safely.