London man recalls frantic efforts to pull elderly pair from smoke-filled home

Ian Puppe is a west London resident who on Friday helped get an elderly couple out of a home at the corner Base Line Road and Southcrest Drive that was on fire. (Jonathan Juha, The London Free Press)

Ian Puppe was walking his four-year-old daughter to school Friday morning when he smelled what he was certain was smoke.
So the 41-year-old west London resident decided to pick up the pace, drop his daughter off and return to the house at the corner of Base Line Road and Southcrest Drive where the smoke was coming from.
When he got there, a woman was trying to get inside the home, saying someone was inside.
“I looked inside the home and saw a lady on the main floor, went in, walked her out,” Puppe said.
But the resident, who seemed disoriented and, Puppe said, was likely in her 90s, kept trying to get back inside the home.
“We didn’t understand why,” he said. “So I took a look inside, we held her out of the door . . . and after a minute or so I saw some movement in the basement.”
Without thinking much about it, Puppe went in and found an elderly man who, smoke up to his hips, was trying to get into the home’s basement.
“I helped him out the stairs and out the door and screamed across the streets to the ladies at the school . . . and got them to call the fire department,” he said.
“I didn’t see any flames, but it was pretty smoky.”
His quick action likely helped save the couple, who were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and are expected to recover, from further harm.
Though fire officials don’t encourage people to enter places on fires, District Fire Chief Dave Robb praised Puppe for his action.
“Good on his part,” he said.
Though the investigation into the fire continues, Robb said it is believed to be cooking-related and that it originated in the basement.
Unattended cooking is the No. 1 cause of fires in London, fire officials say.
Damages to the home were pegged at $60,000.
Asked about his actions, Puppe said he acted instinctively.
“It’s cliché, but you don’t really think,” he said. “You don’t want anybody to get hurt.”