FRIENDS helped save the life of an elderly woman — after seeing smoke pouring out of the house while on their way back from watching England’s opening World Cup match.

Harry Owen, Jason Murphy and Matthew Helm were on their way back from watching the 2-1 defeat to Italy at a friend’s house at about 2.30am on Sunday.

They were planning to visit another friend who lives in Foxglove Drive, Bury, when they heard a smoke alarm at a nearby house and saw smoke pouring out.

They were forced to break down the front door to rescue the woman, who had been asleep, and her dog, before firefighters attended the incident, which was caused by an unattended chip pan.

The woman was taken to Fairfield Hospital for smoke inhalation and has since been released.

The group’s friend, whom they were planning to meet, was not in the house at the time, and is the woman’s grandson.

Jason, aged 19, of Broad Oak Lane, explained how the drama unfolded: “We were coming home after watching the match and we could just see this black smoke.

“We couldn’t get in so I had to force the door open. The lady was at the top of the stairs, so we helped bring her down and sat her on a chair until the ambulance arrived.”

Jason, as well as 16-year-old Harry, and 21-year-old Matthew, were treated for smoke inhalation and given oxygen themselves, but were not seriously hurt.

Neighbour Gemma Meehan, who watched the incident unfold, said: “They didn’t think twice about going in, they definitely saved her life.”

Next-door neighbour Angela Sutcliffe rang 999, and said; “All you could see was smoke. The alarm was going off and thankfully they managed to get her out.”

Firefighters said that the flames were quickly extinguished and managed to limit the damage caused, saving about 80 per cent of the property.

Ian Duckworth, Bury station manager, added: "It was a minor fire in the kitchen involving a grill pan but it gave off quite a bit of smoke.

"The woman was unaware of the fire but fortunately crews had recently carried out a smoke alarm campaign in the area and the smoke alarm activated, which alerted the neighbours.

"They went in and escorted her to safety. It was a very neighbourly thing for them to do, as they put themselves at risk going in the smoke to get her out."