Defiant Charlie Wright - owner of last house standing in River Streets - owes his life to pet dog Jazz after blaze (From Wirral Globe)
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Defiant Charlie Wright - owner of last house standing in River Streets - owes his life to pet dog Jazz after blaze
Charlie Wright has fought to stay in the family home that has been his "castle" for more than 60 years - but his life almost came to a tragic end after a fire oin the early hours of Monday.
He lives in the last house standing on the former River Streets estate - and his defiant stance was featured this week in national newspapers and regional television bulletins.
But Charlie, his lodger and his now-famous home almost came to a premature demise when he decided to cook chips then fell asleep - and the pan burst into flames spreading choking smoke throughtout the property.
Luckily he was woken by the sound of his dog Jazz barking out a warning.
It saved the life of Charlie and John Norman, who lodges at the house.
They were taken to Arrowe Park Hospital suffering smoke inhalation.
The blaze threatened to level the house in which Charlie was born.
Charlie told the Globe: "If it hadn't been for Jazz we'd both be dead.
"I’ll never eat chips again.
"The kitchen's contents have now been taken away and will be getting replaced."
Charlie was raised at the property, alongside his nine brothers and sisters, and eventually bought it off the council in 2001.
The 603 other homes that used to make up the River Streets Estate were demolished years ago, but the former boiler maker, who has recently overcome a heart attack, wants to stay put in the house that has been his home for nearly 63 years.
The Globe was the first to tell the story of Charlie's solitary life in 2006.
We returned this week as work begins on the multi-million pound Wirral Waters regeneration project around the north end of Birkenhead.
With the Union Jack proudly raised outside the modest house, the 62-year-old is happy where he is and sees a bright future for the area.
In the past Charlie has been offered other places to live, but none of them have been suitable.
He told the Globe: "I'm 63 next month. The way I've been going with my heart attack, I might not have long to go, so I’m not moving. "This is my castle and I’ve got no intention of leaving.
"The only way they’ll get me to leave this house will be in my box. The council have left me alone for many years, so I’m happy with the way things are at the moment."
He added: "From my bedroom I can see Liverpool’s two cathedrals. I can also sit on my front doorstep and see ships being repaired. Where else in Wirral can you do that?"
The tale of his life, and his fight to remain in a house flanked by two derelict buildings, has featured on the BBC's Inside Out programme.
The Daily Mail carried an extensive article about Charlie and he has also been on local radio.
One of ten children, Charlie went to Tollemache Road school but believes a council strategy that saw 603 homes demolished on the Corporation Road site sounded the death knell for a once-thriving community.
Yet he is heartened by the Wirral Waters scheme and thinks it heralds a brighter future for the area.
Charlie said: "I can’t wait to see Wirral Waters take off, because it will breathe new life into Birkenhead North."