Police have dubbed a member of the public who bravely climbed a ladder to smash his way in to a burning house to save a woman- a hero.

Roofer Tony Britto from Tadworth who was driving through Thornton Heath when the fire drama unfolded abandoned his van and rushed to help police officers as he knew instantly there was a fire as he could see smoke coming from the roof tiles.

The woman occupant was trapped on the first floor quickly and was by a window desperately waving for help.

Police officers tried without success to break through the door but in the meantime Tony went to get a ladder and hammer from his van but the telescopic ladder was too short. A longer ladder was found and with the aid of council workers Terry Panter and Connor Hill, the 36-year-old was able to scale the building, smash the window and help the woman.

He steered her out of the window using a police officers jacket to protect her from the broken glass shards, and carry her down the ladder.

“I initially smashed the window and smoke billowed out,” he said. “The lady came over to the window instantly to get some air. I was covered in glass, my face was covered in smoke.

“I wasn’t even thinking about it, the fact that it was somebody in there and if it was my family I would want them to help straight away.”

Mr Britto said the lady was “gasping for air” once freed and was tearful, hugging everyone at the scene who’d helped save her life. She was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.

Police have said Mr Britto may be put forward for a bravery award. The cause of the fire is unknown.  Mr Britto, is pictured with the  landlady of the nearby Prince George Sheila Gaughan, who put out an appeal asking for people to buy them a drink as a thank you via the pub’s Gr8niteout ap. 

Mr Britto, instead asked for donations to a crowdfunding appeal on JustGiving to raise money for the Mika Youth Team,  a non profitable s for 8-14 year olds.