Woman, 26, a hero after saving woman from burning house
GARBO Chris Hadwell was heralded a hero for pulling an unconscious woman from her blazing Byron Bay home on Thursday morning.
But, as Mr Hadwell attests, without the tenacity and smarts of 26-year-old Jen McCallum, the trapped woman would have been left for dead.
The Colac-born hospitality worker, wearing only a t-shirt and underpants, was first on the scene.
"It seemed very odd because it was so loud. Initially I thought someone was breaking into my home. Things were exploding. It was chaos. It was really burning at that stage
"I noticed there was a car parked in the driveway and something just clicked. I put two and two together and thought if the car was in the driveway and there was nobody standing out the front of the house, then there was someone still in the there," she said
What few people know is before garbo hero Chris even go to the scene, slim-built Jen had already alerted the fire brigade and crawled into the billowing inferno herself, shouting for a response.
"I got down on hands and knees and crawled in as far as I could but it was hot and I couldn't breathe," she said.
"I just had to do something. I was yelling out. At that point I ran back out into the lane and that's when Chris arrived. I said, 'I think there is someone in there'.
"Chris was such a brave hero. He crawled back in (after the roof collapsed). Then he shouted 'I've got her, I've got her!'."
After the rescue Ms McCallum rushed back home to provide wet towels before the ambulance arrived.
Ms McCallum said she awoke the next day with a renewed sense of gratitude for being alive. She seized that sentiment and enrolled in an interior design course - her long-time dream.
"The whole thing left me with an overwhelming desire to make the most of every day," she said.
The son of the rescued woman Jock Mackay said he will be forever grateful for the heroic efforts shown by Ms McCallum and Chris Hadwell, saving the life of his mother Jennifer.
Mr Mackay, from Dungog near Newcastle, was on the scene with family yesterday salvaging what they could of her singed belongings, looking for photos and whatever they could find.
"Their efforts were heroic. We think it's incredibly amazing, and will be forever in their debt," Mr Mackay said.