Narrow escape as elderly couple wake to find house on fire

There were no working fire alarms in the house after batteries were removed.

The aftermath of the house fire near Stafford. Photo: @StaffsFire
The aftermath of the house fire near Stafford. Photo: @StaffsFire

An elderly couple had a narrow escape when they woke to find their house on fire in the early hours today.

The couple, in their 80s, had taken the batteries out of their fire alarms and only discovered the blaze when one of them happened to wake up and see the kitchen engulfed in flames.

The blaze started when wooden beams overheated and caught fire near an incorrectly-installed wood burner in the kitchen of the home in Church Eaton, near Stafford.

The pair stayed in their home at St Editha's Court until a neighbour told them to leave and they were both treated for smoke inhalation by paramedics.

Firefighters from Stafford and Gnosall wore breathing apparatus and used a hose-reel jet to put out the fire after being called at around 2.51am.

Fire Investigation Officer Paul Shaw said: “There were a lot of factors in this incident which meant it could have had a far more tragic outcome.

“The most concerning problem was that there were no working smoke alarms in the home as the couple had removed the batteries.

"If the alarms were working the residents would have been alerted to the fire a lot sooner. Please ensure you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your property.

"If this gentleman hadn’t have happened to wake up in the night they could have slept through the fire and been overcome by carbon monoxide which can lead to death.

“When the pair discovered the fire they called the service straight away, however they stayed in the living room awaiting our arrival.

"They only left the property when a neighbour went in and got them out. If you discover a fire in your home get out and stay out.

“The wood burner the couple were using for heat was also not installed correctly. The two wooden beams were too close to the joists causing them to overheat and the fire to begin.

"Always ensure log flues are installed correctly by a reputable person or company.

“Finally the fact that the occupiers were elderly added to their vulnerability. One of them also had very limited mobility and as our SAME campaign highlights these two factors make residents more likely to die in a fire.

"Please check on elderly relatives or neighbours and ensure they are safe. If in doubt about a resident’s safety call our free Community Advice Team for more information on 0800 0241 999.”

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