THE actions of a quick-thinking pensioner helped prevent a block of flats being engulfed in flames.

Douglas Sides, 75, of Cefndre, Wrexham, was at home watching television at about 9.50pm on Monday when there was a banging and call for help on his front door.

He said: “As soon as I opened the door I realised the communal hallway was thick with smoke. You could hardly see the hand in front of your face.

“The man who had been knocking on my door was the neighbour across the way. A fire had broken out in his flat and he didn’t have a telephone to call 999.”

Despite the terrifying scenario Mr Sides, who before retirement worked at British Steel in Shotton, kept calm.

He immediately went inside and phoned for the fire service before getting out of the building to safety.

“I had to take a deep breath of air before I left my own flat and went into the hallway,” he said.

“The smoke was everywhere. It was so dense and choking.”

Mr Sides said firefighters arrived quickly and did well to tackle the flames which had taken hold in his neighbour’s flat.

He said: “I don’t know the extent of the damage, but it looks to be pretty bad. I don’t think I did anything particularly special. It was just what anyone else would have done in the circumstances.”

A spokesman for North Wales Fire Service said the blaze was thought to be started by a cooker fire.

A spokesman for the Welsh Ambulance Service confirmed an 81-year-old man was taken to the Maelor Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.