Brave Richard Allsup told last night how he crawled on his hands and knees and used a hosepipe as a lifeline to rescue a prominent businessman from a blazing inferno.
Mr Allsup (pictured), along with five other neighbours, helped pluck Michael Blunt, a member of a Midland shoe shop dynasty, from the blaze at his Worcestershire home yesterday.
The 55-year-old victim, who is related to Blunt's Shoes owner Robert Blunt, suffered 30 per cent burns to both legs and was last night in a critical condition at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham last night.
Mr Allsup was alerted to the blaze at Snaefell in the village of Abberley after hearing Mr Blunt's daughter screaming at about 5.40am.
"It was myself and the neighbours," he explained. "I went in and pulled him out, it was too dark to see.
"I knew that he was in there and there was too much smoke to see. My worry was if I found him, I wouldn't be able to find my way out.
"We went to find a rope so I could use it to follow my way back but we found a garden hosepipe instead. I went back in and found him and just followed the hose which one of the neighbours was holding at the other end."
While Mr Allsup was rescuing Mr Blunt, other neighbours were receiving advice over the telephone from emergency services.
As they waited for paramedics and fire crews to arrive they followed first aid instructions and helped treat burns to his legs.
Mr Allsup added: "It has had an impact on all of us and you appreciate how aggressive a house fire is and how it is not so much the flames that affect you but the smoke.
"Having to crawl under the smoke to find him when I could only see two inches in front of me was quite frightening. I knew that as long as the hosepipe was there, I could get out, without that it could have been very difficult. I am just grateful he was where he was, if he had been further in the house, I may not have been able to get him."
Mr Allsup was taken to hospital following the fire, where he was treated for smoke inhalation.
Mr Blunt's daughter was also treated for breathing in smoke.
West Mercia Police said it was investigating the cause of the blaze but was not treating it as suspicious.
Mr Blunt is a member of the Blunt dynasty who opened a chain of 40 shoe shops across the region in the 1960s.
Blunt's was founded by Robert Blunt's grandfather, Thomas, 140 years ago and his first shop was in the Bull Ring in Kidderminster. Fifty years later a second shop was opened in Stourport and after another half a century there was further expansion, including a shop in Bewdley.
The Bewdley store was closed last year, with Robert Blunt blaming out of town shopping centres and the bypass for its demise. No-one from Blunt's Shoes was available for comment.