Couple escape home blaze

PUBLISHED: 11:01 25 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 May 2010

The house in Victoria Street was not fitted with a smoke alarm and took fire-fighters more than five hours to bring under control.
Photo: HELEN DRAKE.

The house in Victoria Street was not fitted with a smoke alarm and took fire-fighters more than five hours to bring under control. Photo: HELEN DRAKE.

A couple in their 50s had a lucky escape on Thursday morning when a fire ripped through their Littleport home.

They were woken by the blaze shortly before 7am and after managing to get out of the house in Victoria Street d

A couple in their 50s had a lucky escape on Thursday morning when a fire ripped through their Littleport home.

They were woken by the blaze shortly before 7am and after managing to get out of the house in Victoria Street decided to go back and collect some of their belongings from the smoked-filled property, which was not fitted with a smoke alarm. Fire crews from Ely and Littleport took five and a half hours to get the blaze under control.

The cause of the fire is thought to be an electrical fault in an immersion heater in the first floor airing cupboard. Smoke spread quickly to the ground floor and damage to the inside of the house was extensive.

Ely Fire station manager Adrian Slack said: “We believe the fire was started by an electrical fault in the bathroom area on the first floor, although this cannot be confirmed because of the extent of the damage caused.”

“The fire quickly spread through the floorboards to a large store room downstairs. The room contained boxes, paperwork and other combustible materials which intensified the fire, causing it to spread back upstairs.

Crews did an excellent job extinguishing the fire before it could reach the loft cavity which could have caused the roof to collapse.”

Mr Slack added: “The couple were lucky to have discovered the fire in the first place as there were no smoke alarms in the property.”

“The woman, who was downstairs at the time, heard the noise and went to wake the man, who was sleeping upstairs. By this time the fire was well alight and the stairwell was full of thick black smoke so she could only shout to wake him. Having a smoke alarm in the property would have alerted them to the fire much quicker, allowing them time to get out safely.”

Station manager Slack warned people never to go back into a house to collect belonging. “It is very easy to be overcome by smoke during a house fire. Your life is worth far more than any material object in the home. It is just not worth the risk.”

The fire comes just days after the launch of a national campaign to highlight the dangers of not have a smoke alarm fitted or not checking that the device is working.

The Pull Your Finger Out Campaign was launched to encourage people to install and check that smoke alarms are working. Those without a smoke alarm are more than twice as likely to die in a fire, and there are 433 accidental house fires a year across the county.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service Chris Strickland said: "The message is simple - smoke alarms save lives, but only if they work. We're urging all Cambridgeshire residents to test their smoke alarms - this simple action could save the lives of you or your loved ones."

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