A terrified West Drayton resident and his beloved cat were rescued from a raging blaze that gutted his newly refurbished flat.

Alf Rogers, of Wren Drive, West Drayton, was saved by a neighbour after a chip pan caught fire at 3.40pm on Sunday.

The 61-year-old told the Uxbridge Gazette through tears how he fell and, unable to get up, was powerless to extinguish the flames.

He said: "It was terrifying. I thought I was going to die. I'd decided I was going to do some liver and bacon and do some chips to go with it. The fat was melting and then my legs went and I fell on the floor and couldn't get up. The chip pan caught fire and I couldn't do anything about it."

But thanks to a smoke alarm fitted only months ago by Hayes fire station, a fast acting neighbour was alerted to his plight.

The neighbour dialed 999 after being beaten back by flames, allowing fire fighters to rescue him.

Mr Rogers said: "He called the emergency services. I couldn't see anything and the next thing I knew I was in the ambulance and was being given oxygen. I said that my cat, Baby, was still inside and they (fire fighters) used a thermal imaging camera to get her out."

The cat was also given oxygen and taken to an RSPCA clinic to recover.

Mr Rogers was admitted overnight to Hillingdon Hospital with smoke inhalation and returned to his flat the following day.

"I didn't expect to come home to what I've come home to. I'd just got the place nice. It's devastating to see. I have no heating or electricity," he explained.

The former power station engineer, who suffers from disabilities caused by contracting hepatitis, would now like to see his neighbour's bravery recognised by nominating him for a Gazette Local Hero award.

Visibly shaken, he added: "I couldn't do nothing about it. I was shocked when I came back and saw this. If it wasn't for my neighbour I would have died. It's incredible what he did."

A spokesman for the fire service said the case highlighted the importance of having a working smoke alarm and added they do not just alert the person in the house but also people outside.

* The London Fire Brigade offers a free home safety check.

Visit www.london-fire.gov.uk/HomeFireSafetyVisit.asp  

* Call 01895 451 033 if you were the brave neighbour.