Fire staff praised for saving family

A MOTHER-of-two has described how she feared for the life of her young family when they were trapped in an upstairs bedroom of their burning home. Firefighters pulled Julie Denny, 31, and her two daughters Maisie, three, and Isabel, one, from the first floor window of their house on Rectory Road, Ipswich at about 4.

A MOTHER-of-two has described how she feared for the life of her young family when they were trapped in an upstairs bedroom of their burning home.

Firefighters pulled Julie Denny, 31, and her two daughters Maisie, three, and Isabel, one, from the first floor window of their house on Rectory Road, Ipswich at about 4.25am yesterday after a blaze broke out downstairs.

"I have no clue how it started. I always switch off the kitchen appliances at night and really don't know what it was," Ms Denny said.

"The first thing I knew about it was when I was woken up by an explosion. I thought one of my cats had knocked something over so I went out to have a look but when I opened my bedroom door to go downstairs all I saw was a wall of smoke."


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An investigation into the cause of the blaze has been launched and Suffolk Fire Service said it could not rule out the possibility that it was started deliberately.

Ian Bowell, assistant divisional officer for Ipswich, who is conducting the investigation, said last night: "The on scene investigation is now complete but there are still a number of avenues that we need to pursue and as yet we have been unable to find a definite cause.

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"At the moment we are still treating it as an accidental fire but there is a possibility that it could have been deliberate."

The fire began in the front room of the terraced property where Ms Denny and her two children live and spread through the ground floor.

A terrified Ms Denny quickly got Maisie from a nearby bedroom and shut herself and her daughters in the upstairs bedroom. She called the fire service with her mobile and was given instructions by a controller on how to stay alive in the choking room.

"Luckily I always have a mobile phone near my bed during the night in case anything happens," Ms Denny said.

"I was just in a complete state of panic. I phoned the fire brigade and a lady started talking to me but I was so scared that I couldn't really listen to her."

To protect her baby daughter from the smoke Ms Denny held Isabel out of the window while Maisie hid under some bedclothes.

Firefighters from Princes Street and Colchester Road used a ladder to access the first-floor window and helped the one-year-old girl from the house first before helping the three-year-old and the mother out.

Suffolk Fire Service assistant divisional officer Geoff Pyke praised the work of Kristin Oxborrow in the fire service control room, who kept Ms Denny on the phone for seven minutes before crews arrived.

"They have core survival skills and they're trained in dealing with these situations," he said.

"The work of the controller bought us time while the crews were getting to the scene."

Ms Denny added: "I really thought we were going to die. I couldn't breathe. The smoke was so thick that you couldn't see the bed from the window and it's only a couple of feet.

"Luckily the fire service were there in much less than 10 minutes and I am so pleased that they were there so quickly.

"I would like to say a big thank-you to the firefighters, paramedics, friends, neighbours and family, who helped in the rescue and in the hours after the fire.

"What worries me is that my smoke alarm didn't go off. I don't know if it was damaged in the explosion but I check it regularly and it had new batteries so I don't know why it didn't sound."

Ms Denny and her children were released from Ipswich Hospital yesterday morning after being admitted with smoke inhalation.

Although she said that they were all doing fine she added that she still feared for the safety of her ten cats.

"Four of them were saved by my neighbour Roy but one, Sherbert, was killed in the fire and five are still missing - a large grey, a little orange half Persian, a black with a little bit of white, a black and white and a long haired black," Ms Denny said.

"I'm concerned because they have no survival instincts and have been indoors their whole lives."

Anyone with information should call 01394 274330.

n Police said last night a man had been arrested in connection with the fire and was being questioned at Ipswich police station.

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