A BUILDER has been hailed a hero after saving the life of an elderly neighbour by climbing into his smoke-logged home.

Wayne Beck had just popped home from tending to the family’s free range hens on Saturday afternoon when he noticed the smoke alarm sounding from 94-year-old Alastair Ward’s house in Blythe Road, Corfe Mullen.

He could smell smoke, and became worried about Mr Ward – who is unable to walk – so he went to investigate.

“The windows were shut and there was a lot of thick white smoke inside. I could hear Alastair calling for help,” he said.

“I don’t have a key so I had to climb in through a sash window while calling the fire brigade, which was not easy.

“I went to check he was ok, he was struggling to breathe a bit so I opened all the windows and tried to reassure him that help was on the way.”

Mr Beck, 42, also found the source of the smoke – a fire in the oven – and pulled the plug to isolate it.

The blaze is thought to have been started by an electrical fault.

“It is a good thing he had a smoke alarm, or I wouldn’t have known there was anything wrong,” he added.

Both Mr Ward and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service praised the rescuer. “He is a hero,” said Mr Ward, a retired headteacher and school inspector.

“I was just watching the racing when I thought ‘It’s very foggy in Cheltenham today’, then I realised there was smoke filling the room.

“It was very thick and I couldn’t get out or do anything. I was calling for help but no one could hear me. I was worried it might burst into flame, then I would have been in real trouble.

“But Wayne heard and came to the rescue. He is a star.”

Dorset Fire said two crews from Poole and one from Wimborne attended, but thanks to the prompt action of Mr Beck, who works with his father Tom at TG Beck Building Contractors, the fire was out on arrival.

A spokesman said: “Although we would in no way advocate this course of action, the bravery and selflessness of this person going beyond the call of duty has saved his friend and neighbour’s life.”