HEROIC Doug Hughes risked his life TWICE to try to rescue a couple from their burning bungalow.
The brave 53-year-old saved dementia sufferer Barbara Hughes from the blaze before returning to help her husband Stanleyunaware that the pensioner was already dead.
Doug, who was aided by colleague Matt Goodison (29) and neighbour George Edwards (61), played down his heroics this week, insisting: I guess you don't think about these things at the time, you just do it.
Doug and Matt ran to help after smelling smoke from a chip pan fire at the house in Norstead Crescent, Bramley, last Friday while working nearby.
The pair, who work for British Gas, ran around the back to investigate and saw dementia sufferer Barbara Hughes sitting motionless in the smoke-filled kitchen.
There was a smell coming from the bungalow, as if rubber was being burnt, and you could see the flames outside, said Matt, of Whiston.
Service manager Doug added: The kitchen was completely engulfed by the flames, I had to force my way in.
The woman was just sitting staring at the fire, her eyes were just fixed in one place and she was making no effort to get out.
The neighbours told me that she had a mental condition and was being looked after by her husband.
It was only after the rescuers led Mrs Hughes outside the burning house that she said her 80-year-old husband Stanley was asleep inside.
She had no idea that he was dead and said that he was poorly in bed, Doug said.
Doug ran inside with the couples neighbour, George Edwards (61), to find Mr Hughes and discovered his body in a bedroom.
The flames were still quite strong and George said: He's gone, we have to go.
He was clearly not alive but I couldn't just leave him there to burn with the bungalow, so I put a damp carpet over the flames and made sure the fire was out completely.
Between them, the George and Doug made sure that the fire was out before fleeing the house.
George said: Barbara was suffering from dementia. When I asked her the first time was there anybody else in the house she said No.
She told us a bit later that her husband was poorly in the bedroom.
When we got into the bungalow, Stanley was lying dead in the bedroom and I got the impression that he had been dead for quite a while.
Its a shock because it was only last Wednesday that I saw him out gardening.
I think he had died overnight because Barbara did say to us that he had not got up for her in the morning.
Barbara kept asking when Stanley was going to come for her, and we didn't want to be the people to tell her what had happened because she was a bit confused.
It is understood that Mr Hughes died from natural causes and police said that they were not treating his death as suspicious.
Mrs Hughes is believed to be staying with relatives.
Firefighters from Rotherham and Aston stations attended the scene of the fire.
Rotherham Station manager Steve Copp said: This is a very sad incident and our thoughts go out to the family and friends of the deceased.
Our usual advice is to stay outside and wait for the fire service to arrive but it is important to recognise the actions of these people at this incident.
They safely extinguished the fire and led the lady outside to safety.