Hero Jeff Marriott used a garden hose to battle his way through a blazing house to rescue a toddler who was frozen to the spot with fear just feet from a searing fire.

The little girl is now being treated for 20 per cent burns in a specialist hospital unit in East Grinstead. But her condition is not thought to be life-threatening after she was rescued from the blaze at Mr Marriott's neighbours' home.

It is the second time that 52-year-old Mr Marriott has saved someone's life from a blazing house.

When he was 17 he received a bravery certificate from the London Fire Brigade after fighting his way through flames to rescue a 76-year-old man from a blazing house. He threw the man over his shoulder and carried him out of the inferno in thick smoke.

Grandfather Mr Marriott sprang into action for a second time last night when his mother-in-law, who was visiting him home in Chiltern Crescent in Durrington, near Worthing, alerted him to the blaze in his neighbours' house.

Mr Marriott said: "We were sitting in the living room when my wife's mum said that someone must have a hell of a fire going because there was so much smoke. I went and opened the front door and shouted, 'House fire. Call 999'."

The house was well alight and the homeowners were in the street with two of their three daughters. The mother was screaming that one of her children was still in the house.

Mr Marriott ran to the front door of the blazing property but it was locked so he went to the back door which was open.

Mr Marriott, a carpenter, said: "She was screaming blue murder. I legged it round the back and her husband followed me with his neighbour, Terry.

"In the kitchen there was just a wall of smoke. I had a hose in my garden so we fed it over the gardens to the back. I was on my knees spraying into the smoke so I could get in."

Mr Marriott found his way into the lounge where he was saw a small child standing next to a blazing chair.

He said: "She looked at me and I shouted to her to come to me a couple of times but she was just rigid, she didn't move. It was like she was frozen with fear right next to the fire."

Mr Marriott, who has lived in the street for almost four years, made his way to the toddler, who was semi-clothed, and grabbed her. He pulled her away from the blaze and threw her out of the kitchen into the garden where her father and neighbours had gathered.

Mr Marriott went back into the living room and continued to battle the blaze with the hose until the fire service arrived.

Three members of the family were taken to Worthing General Hospital and the toddler was then transferred to East Grinstead for burns treatment.