AN 18-year-old Monmouthshire student who was out for an evening jog saved a sleeping man from a fire after seeing smoke and kicking down the door.

Youth rugby player Steve Arnold was out for a run in Portskewett when he saw smoke billowing from the back of Pike House in Black Rock Road, Portskewett.

Mr Arnold, who has just finished sixth form at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool, peered through the window and saw flames in the kitchen after a chip pan had caught alight.

He said: “It all happened quite quickly. I rang the fire brigade then kicked in the panel at the bottom of the door and went in.

“I grabbed the chip pan and threw it outside, and then a man came stumbling down the stairs towards the kitchen. The only reason he woke up was he heard the door being kicked in.”

Paula and Martin Hawken, who live at the 250-year-old Pike House building, were away for the weekend in Devon but it was their 32-year-old son James who was asleep upstairs in the property.

Martin Hawken said: “It could have been so much worse. It was so, so lucky as apparently Stephen wasn’t going to take that route but changed his mind.

“The fire brigade said we were talking about minutes. The damage to the house can be fixed but obviously life can’t.”

Five firefighters from Caldicot fire brigade arrived on the scene just before 9.30pm on July 13 but the fire was reported out on arrival.

Mr and Mrs Hawken's neighbour, who lives in The Cobbins, on Black Rock Road, called Mr Arnold a local hero.

She said: “The fire crew said had he not done what he did, the person inside the house may not have survived. He’s a brave, brave young man but is very modest about the whole thing.”

Mr Arnold, who plays for Caldicot Rugby Club’s youth team, said: “I just did what anyone else would have done. Afterwards I went and carried on with my run, I didn’t beat my personal best though!”

Helen Arnold, Steve's mother, said: "I'm unbelievably proud and can't ask for anything more. I was a bit worried when he first started telling me what had happened."

Neither of the men were injured although James Hawken was taken in overnight at Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital as a precaution.