THE heroic actions of neighbours who helped to rescue three children from a burning house have been praised by firefighters.

Crews from Leigh, Hindley and Atherton stations were called to a terraced house in Gregory Street, Leigh, at 1.30am yesterday following reports of people trapped in a house which was on fire.

When they arrived firefighters used a nine metre high ladder to rescue a 29-year-old woman and a child from the front bedroom of the house, and helped her 29-year-old partner to flee by guiding him down the stairs.

Three other children had already been rescued from the front window by neighbours using a ladder.

The couple and their children, aged two, six, eight and 10, were treated for smoke inhalation and taken to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan.

Firefighters said the blaze had been caused by an unattended chip pan and although a smoke alarm was fitted, it did not go off soon enough because it was incorrectly fitted.

The house suffered “significant” smoke damage and the kitchen was destroyed.

Neighbour Anthony Halliwell, aged 31, provided the ladder for the rescue.

He said: “We just heard the noise and someone kicking a door in and I thought it was burglars. You could see the mum and the children in the window.

“A couple of neighbours were using a step ladder and trying to get them to drop down but I said I had a ladder that would reach.

“I’m just glad they’re all right.”

Blue watch crew commander Lewis Cross from Leigh Fire Station added: “It was chaos inside and I think the father was in the back room looking for his kids because he didn’t know they had been rescued.

“The incident could have turned out completely different if the neighbours hadn’t helped.”

He said: “If you’re not sure your smoke alarm is fitted properly you can call us for a free home safety check by calling 0800 555 815.”