A TOWN crier turned hero when he leapt into action to help evacuate a blaze-hit Mirfield supermarket.
Without a thought for his own safety, Russell Booth, 50, dressed in full civic costume, dashed into the store.
Former teacher Russell, on his first day in his new role, went up and down the aisles ringing his bell and shouting: “Fire!”
When he saw smoke rising from the back of the Co-op food store off Huddersfield Road he rushed to investigate.
“When I got to the bin area I could see it was more serious than I first thought and rushed in to tell the staff to sound the alarm,” said Russell, whose brother Darren, 52, is a firefighter.
“I then went into the store and cleared a 12-deep queue in the post office area and then went up and down the aisles.
“I was ringing the bell and shouting ‘Oh yea. Fire! Fire!’ in simple, short bursts.
“Shoppers were stunned and shocked to see this town crier coming towards them.
“But fortunately they could see I was serious and we got 30 or 40 people out of there.
“People tend to ignore fire alarms as they go off all the time and think they are just drills. But they didn’t ignore the town crier!”
Firefighters were called to the store at 11.37am as smoke and flames leapt from the rear of the building.
A fire had started in an external generator for the refrigeration unit and spread to the building, burning a hole in the roof.
Storerooms and offices were damaged.
Almost 20 firefighters from four stations – Dewsbury, Mirfield, Brighouse and Huddersfield – tackled the blaze and spent several hours at the scene.
Watch commander Matthew Goodall, of Dewsbury Fire Station, said the cause was under investigation.
The heat had melted gas pipes which also caused a hazard for fire crews before both the gas and electricity were switched off.
After going inside Russell helped push a pram with a baby out of the store and once staff and customers were all safe, he went to block the entrance to the store car park to clear the way for the fire brigade.
He also marshalled traffic and passers-by who were drawn to the drama.
Watch commander Goodall said he would nominate Russell for an award for his public spirited actions.
Russell said: “This was my first engagement as Mirfield’s town crier. It’s not a day I’ll forget in a hurry.”