A HERO saved his elderly neighbour’s life when he broke down his door and dragged him from his burning flat.

Smoke filled the elderly man’s apartment in Brighton’s Hereford Court high-rise after he put on a chip pan before going for a lie down.

Tony Leonard, 39, who lives next door, kicked down the door and battled thick black smoke to reach the man’s bedroom. He then dragged him out to safety.

Mr Leonard’s wife Leela, 37, said: “If it wasn’t for Tony he would be dead.

“He keeps playing it down but he saved the man’s life.

“If we happened to be out that day he would be dead.”

She was on the balcony of her flat in Hereford Street at midday on Monday when she spotted smoke from the neighbour’s balcony.

She called Tony and took her son and another neighbour to safety.

Tony banged on the door in an attempt to alert the pensioner, but there was no response.

Fearing the worst, he kicked down the door and rushed in.

He said: “The smoke was thick. I had my sleeve over my face but I couldn’t help but take it in. It was overwhelming.

“I could see it was coming from the kitchen but the door was closed. I went into the bedroom and he was on the bed. He was convinced the fire was from outside so refused to come out. In the end I just had to drag him out.”

Emergency services were on the scene minutes later and paramedics gave the elderly man oxygen.

Three fire crews from Preston Circus, Hove and Roedean tackled the blaze.

Mr Leonard said: “I have been to see him at the Royal Sussex and he is doing ok.

“He is a lovely bloke but he is old and needs support. He didn’t even know there was a fire.

“We have contacted the council because he needs to be cared for. It is not safe for him to be at home alone.”

Mrs Leonard said: “If by chance we weren’t in that day it could have been very different.”