Woman and baby escape house blaze

A MOTHER and her two young children - one a newborn baby - could have died in a fire at their home without simple safety measures that had been taken, fire chiefs said last night.

A MOTHER and her two young children - one a newborn baby - could have died in a fire at their home without simple safety measures that had been taken, fire chiefs said last night.

The young woman had installed a smoke alarm, closed doors and had an escape plan prepared for such an event - and firefighters involved with tackling the blaze in Haverhill said all three were crucial to the survival of the family.

They said the infant would have been particularly vulnerable to smoke had doors not been closed before the family went to bed and the child might easily have been overcome before the alarm sounded.

Initially, crews called to the scene of the fire in Henderson Close were told they would have to rescue the family-of-three.


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But the mother had taken every precaution to protect her family, said Chris Hare, the firefighter in charge of the operation early yesterday, who also praised her calmness and quick thinking during the drama.

Mr Hare said not only had the mother fitted a fire alarm but she had also planned an escape route in the event of fire and closed the ground floor doors.

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When the fire started in the kitchen the distressed mother gave details of the blaze to the 999 operator to help firefighters, he said.

These crucial factors - especially the presence of a working alarm - “almost definitely” saved the young family, said Mr Hare.

By the time crews from Haverhill and Clare arrived at the scene shortly after 6.30am, the family had already escaped and was being cared for by paramedics.

“By shutting the kitchen door it limited the spread of smoke,” said Mr Hare. “The smoke alarm also saved their lives.

“However, if she hadn't closed the door, the smoke could have blocked their escape or overwhelmed them before the alarm went off - particularly in the case of the newborn because they are very sensitive to smoke.

“The mother seemed very relieved to see us but I think she was more relieved to have got her children out alive.”

Fire officers said the 50sq m house was filled with thick smoke by the fire, which started in the kitchen. Firefighters in breathing gear had the flames under control shortly before 7am. And although ambulance and police attended nobody required hospital treatment.

Fire officers recommend householders fit alarms, routinely check the devices and make sure they are regularly cleaned to maintain their sensitivity to smoke. They also recommend home owners close their doors at night to limit the spread of fire and smoke.

For advice contact Suffolk Fire Service headquarters on 01473 588 888. The service offers a free consultation service and will install fire alarms for free.

will.clarke@eadt.co.uk

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