Man's terror as clothes catch fire

By Benedict O'ConnorA WIFE who helped save her mechanic husband when he became engulfed in flames in a freak accident has spoken of her ordeal.Gillian Linge, 47, was working on the house she and husband Ian let to tenants when she heard a shriek from the garden where he was working.

By Benedict O'Connor

A WIFE who helped save her mechanic husband when he became engulfed in flames in a freak accident has spoken of her ordeal.

Gillian Linge, 47, was working on the house she and husband Ian let to tenants when she heard a shriek from the garden where he was working.

When she went to investigate, Mrs Linge was horrified to see her husband's clothes were on fire, but she rushed to his aid and, with the help of a neighbour, bundled him into their swimming pool, probably saving his life.


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Mrs Linge, of London Road, Brandon, said: "He was working between two sheds, trying to get a large honeysuckle out which was overgrown and he was drilling down into the roots.

"Earlier that day he had been working on a petrol tank and he must have got some petrol on his clothes, but he has no sense of smell and has been waiting for an operation on his sinuses.

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"What probably happened is that, because it was such a hot day, the vapours from the petrol must have been ignited by a spark from the drill.

"At first I thought he had cut himself with the drill or something silly when I heard him, but I couldn't believe it when I saw he was on fire."

With a rush of adrenaline, Mrs Linge somehow managed to scramble onto the roof of the shed in Knappers Way and was able to get her 45-year-old husband out from the narrow space between the two sheds and into the neighbour's garden.

She and the neighbour, who had by then arrived at the scene, then tried to put out the flames whipping around Mr Linge, but in spite of managing to do so his clothes were still melting.

"All I could think was 'Get him in the water, get him in the water', and then we somehow managed to get him back round into the swimming pool," said Mrs Linge.

"I was told later that was the best thing I could have done and if I hadn't he could have been killed, it really doesn't bear thinking about."

Mr Linge suffered 10 % burns to his body in the accident, which happened at lunch time on July 18, and he is now recovering in hospital in Chelmsford.

Mrs Linge said her husband had been conscious throughout the incident and had been in tremendous pain, but doctors were hopeful there had not been too much nerve damage and his wounds might heal without skin grafts.

She was hoping Mr Linge will be home in the next few days, and in the meanwhile she has been running their business, G and I Autoparts, but said she would not have been able to do so without tremendous support from her family and the people of Brandon.

"It's been amazing, the local people have been wonderful, there are people helping me out in the shop and they won't accept any money from me - and I have never seen so many cards, they must have bought out a shop," added Mrs Linge.

"My son Ian and his partner Toni-Ann have been here with me and they have been real stars. I'm so grateful to them and all the people for their support and kind words it has been a tremendous help."

benedict.o'connor@eadt.co.uk

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