‘I’m just so proud’: Manchester mother praises daughter, 12, for saving family after house fire destroys possessions

By John McDougall         

A brave and courageous 12-year-old girl’s quick thinking helped save the lives of her younger siblings from a house fire in Newton Heath.

Courtney Ratcliffe, of Finchley Avenue, picked up her baby sister and evacuated their other siblings after a bedroom television caught fire at their home on Wednesday.

The home was unfortunately destroyed, but that didn’t stop one heartless thief who then attempted to burgle the burn-out property while the family were re-located to temporary housing.

Despite the loss of possessions and string of bad luck, Courtney’s mother Sarah could not be prouder of her daughter’s actions.

“I’m devastated and I’ve lost everything but I’m just so proud of what Courtney did, she was brilliant,” she said. “She got her sisters and just got out of there.

“I’m heart-broken, particularly about the things that can’t be replaced like pictures of the kids when they were babies.”

Courtney’s siblings – Lureice, 11, Lexus, nine, Shannon, six, and Summer Poppy, one – were saved from the blaze, as were her grandparents and 14-year-old cousin Declan.

Despite the stress of such an event, the 12-year-old insists her reaction to the fire alarm going off was natural.  

“It was just instinctive,” she said. “The fire alarm was going off, my brother went to see why and came running down the stairs and said there was a fire.

“I took my little sisters out the back and brought them around the front to a neighbour’s house.”

It took two crews from Manchester Central Fire Station and another from Phillips Park to put out the blaze, with six firefighters tackling it.

 The youngster’s quick thinking has since been commended by Councillor David Acton, chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority.

“What Courtney did is absolutely amazing,” he said. “It is terrible that the family have lost so much but, thanks to their sister’s calm response, they all got out safely.

“It’s frightening to think what could’ve happened if there hadn’t been a working smoke alarm and if Courtney had not reacted in the way she did.”

Ms Ratcliffe has been heartened by the response of the close-knit community, which she has been a part of for 10 years.

She said: “The neighbours have really rallied round – taken in all my belongings in and others have given me a pram and clothes for the baby.”

For a home safety check from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service call 0800 555 815 or visit

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