Family urges others to learn from fire at their Warrington home

Richard Currie and his pet Cammy the chameleon

A family from Warrington are urging people not to leave heating products or electrical appliances plugged in when not in use following a fire at their home.

The fire in Grasmere Avenue on Saturday 22 August was caused by an electrical fault involving night lights in a terrarium.

The lights keep the family’s pet chameleon warm at night.

Richard and Charlene Currie became aware of the fire in their bedroom when they went upstairs shortly before 7.30pm to begin the process of putting the youngest of their three children to bed.

Richard, 50, put the fire out with wet towels before it had chance to cause extensive damage and spread beyond the bedroom.

Charlene, 39, rescued chameleon Cammy from her tank.

Richard and Cammy both suffered minor burns as a result of the fire.

The fire also damaged the terrarium, a television, a football shirt, the carpet and a wall, and the family say that they have learnt an important lesson from the incident.

Charlene said: “We were at home with our three children – Lloyd, 18, Laila, 16, and Lee, 11 – when the fire started.

“We are very lucky that the fire did not start when we were out, or even worse when we were all asleep in bed.

“It is frightening to think that leaving a plug in a socket can lead to your home and your lives being put at risk.

“We only use the heat lights in Cammy’s tank at night, but we had left the plug in the socket.

“The fire started as a result of that.

“Thankfully, we stumbled across the fire before it could really take hold.

“When Richard went upstairs and opened our bedroom door smoke came out of it and triggered the smoke alarm on the landing.

“He dealt with the fire while I took Cammy out of her tank and called 999.

“Firefighters subsequently arrived. They made sure that the house was safe after escorting Richard outside, where we were all assessed by paramedics, bar Cammy of course.

“We subsequently took her to a vet.

“Thankfully, none of us suffered any serious injuries as a result of the fire.

“None of us suffered from the effects of smoke inhalation either.

“The consequences of the fire could have been a lot worse.

“We won’t be leaving electrical devices plugged in when they are not in use again, and we hope that others follow that advice as well to prevent more fires like ours.”

Nick Evans, Head of Prevention at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “I am relieved to hear that no-one was seriously injured as a result of the fire and that it did not cause significant damage to the family’s home.

“This incident highlights the importance of not leaving heating products or electrical appliances plugged in when they are not being used.

“Even when the socket is switched off, there is still a power supply going into the pins of any attached plugs, and that can cause a malfunction and a subsequent fire.

“If a socket is easy to access, there is no reason not to unplug electrical devices when they are not being used, especially when it could save your and your family’s lives.

“In this instance, the family had working smoke alarms fitted, which is always encouraged, as is ensuring that they are tested regularly.

“There should be at least one working smoke alarm on every floor of a home.

“We also advise people to carry out a fire safety assessment of their home, have an escape plan in the event of an upstairs or dowstairs fire and consider if they need more smoke alarms than that.

“Having a working smoke alarm in rooms that have electrical devices plugged in would give you earlier notice of a fire, particularly when the doors of those rooms are left closed.

“The more possible sources of an electrical fire in a room, the more important it is to have a working smoke alarm in it.”

Firefighters from Birchwood and Lymm attended the incident.

After clearing the property, they isolated the electricity supply and made sure that the fire was fully out and had not spread.

They inspected the bedroom, and the rest of the house, and used a thermal imaging camera to look for hotspots.

For help and advice regarding smoke alarms and escape plans visit https://www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/public-safety/home-safety.

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