A CHINNOR man has become an overnight hero after putting his own life at risk to save three friends from a burning apartment in France.
Duncan Macbeth showed amazing bravery when he awoke surrounded by flames while his friends slept at a holiday home in the Courchevel ski resort on Monday.
Over 400 people were evacuated after a blaze broke out and Mr Macbeth reacted fastest by literally dragging a friend to safety.
He then rushed to a fourth floor balcony to wake his other friends in the next apartment but his heroics left him stranded and facing a fight to stay alive.
The flames became so fierce that his only option was to jump the 12ft to the balcony below, where he was taken to safety.
Mr Macbeth, 33, said: “I literally was fearing for my life, I thought jumping off the balcony was the only way I would live.
“At this point the flames were just too big for me to run through. But it was from such a height that I can’t believe I didn’t break a rib or an arm – I thought my ankles would shatter just on the impact.”
In the heat of the fire Duncan suffered serious burns to his legs and body and is now recovering at Mottaret Hospital in France.
Speaking from his ward, he said: “I am still in a lot of pain but Tuesday was just horrendous. I could hardly talk because of the pain.”
Duncan will now stay in the hospital for the remainder of his holiday and could have to stay longer if he does not recover in time for his flight home.
But he knows that it could have all been far worse. Such was the extent of the fire that it left a huge black cloud in the valley of the ski resort for the whole of the next day and has made the national news in France.
The whole block, which housed 400 holidaymakers, collapsed as a result of the fire, leaving nothing but burnt remains. And it wasn’t just the building that was destroyed.
“Every single possession I have has been burnt away, literally the only thing I own now is the pants I am wearing,” Mr Macbeth added.
The hero, who is a director at South Bucks Tree Surgeons, saved all his friends, two of whom are from Oakley, from serious injury.