A MUSIC student who rescued a girl from a burning house returned to college hours later to play his first gig.
Jamie Cunliffe, 21, of Magnolia Drive, Colchester, came to the aid of Naomi Hare, who was trapped as fire ripped through her home in James Wick Court, Balkerne Hill.
Naomi, 17, a student at Colchester Institute, was asleep when the blaze started in her sister’s bedroom.
She was woken by a smoke alarm but was unable to get down the stairs due to the smoke.
Jamie, who is studying music at the same Sheepen Road college, said: “I was walking back to my mate’s house and saw a girl at the window screaming and screaming.
“I went to kick the door in, but it turned out it was open.
“I got to the top floor, where I could hear her screaming. It was really scary and the smoke was so black, and it was so hot.
“She was having a panic attack and wouldn’t move, so I picked her up and carried her out.
“We got outside, but then there were small explosions coming from the house, so I picked her up again and carried her around the corner.”
Neighbours came to the pair’s aid.
Jamie and Naomi were treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation, before being taken to Colchester General Hospital for further treatment.
Jamie added: “I was treated at hospital, but wanted to leave because I was desperate to get to a gig.
“I’m in a band called the Elements, and that night was our first gig.
“I'm the frontman in the band, and we have been practising really hard – I couldn’t not go to it.”
Naomi’s mum, Annette Kelly, phoned Jamie to thank him for saving her daughter’s life.
Fire crews, who are investigating the cause of the fire, which started on Tuesday at about 1.25pm, also praised Jamie for rescuing the girl.
He added: “People have been saying I’m a hero, but I’m not looking for praise. It was just a natural reaction. I couldn’t just stand there and watch.”