Family escapes fire thanks to smoke alarm

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A MUM and her three children fled their home after their freezer burst into flames.

Barbara Wanless, 33, roused Sarah, 14, Mark, 13, and 12-year-old Jamie Mullen from their beds after she was woken by the smoke alarm at their home in Market Street, Hetton, earlier this week.

“I thought at first that one of the kids must have burnt some toast and that had set the smoke alarm off,” she said.

“But when I went downstairs it was all quiet, so I knew something was wrong. I opened the dining room door and I could see that the fire was already well away in the kitchen. I shut the kitchen door and ran upstairs, woke the kids and we all got out of the house and rang 999.

“We know now it was the freezer – something had gone wrong with the motor and it just caught fire.”

Barbara, a care assistant at Regents View nursing home, is in no doubt that the family have the smoke alarm to thank for their escape.

“It was definitely the smoke alarm that saved our lives,” she said.

“We’ve been left without a kitchen and bathroom because of the damage caused by the fire and smoke, so things are pretty difficult at the moment.

“I’m just grateful that the landlord had wired smoke alarms fitted when the house was modernised or it could have been a hell of a lot worse.

“I would advise everyone to make sure they get smoke alarms fitted and that they test them regularly. I always test mine at least once a month.”

John Hall, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service district manager for Sunderland, said: “Incidents like this highlight the importance of having working smoke alarms in every home. The family was asleep in bed at the time, and without the warning given by the smoke alarm their lives could have been in real danger.

“Barbara did everything right. She closed the door to the room where the fire was to stop it spreading and quickly got everyone safely out of the house before calling the fire and rescue service.

“I hope this encourages other householders and landlords to make sure their homes are fitted with smoke alarms and that they are tested on a regular basis.

“As this case proves, they really are life savers.”

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