Fire crews praised for saving life of toddler in Sunderland house blaze

Miles McBurnie who was saved from a house fire earlier this week.
Miles McBurnie who was saved from a house fire earlier this week.

A fire chief today praised colleagues who saved a toddler after he was caught up in a Sunderland house blaze.

As reported in the Echo, 18-month-old Miles McBurnie had to be brought back to life after a fire believed to have been started by a candle at his home in the early hours of Tuesday.

The house in Wentbridge, Witherwack, in which fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday.

The house in Wentbridge, Witherwack, in which fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday.

Miles was in his bedroom at the house in Wentbridge, Witherwack, when fire broke out in his parents’ room.

His eight-year-old brother William Roney - the son of Lance Corporal Christopher Roney who was killed in a ‘Friendly Fire’ incident involving a US Apache helicopter in Afghanistan in 2009 - managed to escape on his own, as Miles’ parents Lorna Roney and Adam McBurnie attempted to fight their way up the stairs to reach the toddler.

When they were overcome by the smoke, neighbours tried to rescue Miles before firefighters from Marley Park, Farringdon and Sunderland Central fire stations arrived and pulled the unconscious boy from the house.

Miles is now recovering from the effects of smoke inhalation in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and is due to be transferred back to Sunderland Royal.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther

Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther

Now, chief fire officer at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service Chris Lowther has paid tribute to officers involved in rescuing Miles.

Mr Lowther said: “When our firefighters attend a house fire, they often don’t know what challenges they might face until they arrive on scene.

“As well as tackling the fire itself, their first priority is to ensure the safety and welfare of everyone involved.

“On Tuesday, crews from Marley Park, Sunderland Central and Farringdon showed true dedication when rescuing 18-month old Miles McBurnie from the smoke and flames.

“Once the little boy had been rescued by Marley Park’s Blue Watch, it was clear that he was suffering from smoke inhalation, so the crew performed CPR until the paramedics arrived to take him to hospital.

“We understand he is recovering and our thoughts remain with his family and we hope he will get better very soon.

“I’d particularly like to call out for praise, the officer in charge, Kev Burns, crew manager Ronnie Monaghan and firefighters Lee Thew, Lee Chape and Michael Longstaff who rescued Miles and gave him CPR to support his breathing.

“These firefighters undoubtedly helped to save Miles’ life.

“Firefighters are trained to deal with many difficult and challenging circumstances.

“But, without a doubt the incidents that stay with us the longest are when children are involved.

“This is when it is essential that we keep our emotions in check, despite our natural responses as human beings.

“Such incidents demand extreme professionalism and dedication in order for us to achieve the best outcome for everyone concerned.

“I am proud of all our firefighters – the men and women in our Service who put their own life and safety on the line to make sure everyone in our community stays safe.

“Their bravery is a tribute to everyone in Tyne and Wear.”

Mr Lowther also passed on important safety advice in the wake of the incident.

“The likely cause of the fire was an unattended candle,” he said.

“If you are lighting candles please ensure that they are never left alight in an empty room, they should not be placed close to decorations and must be extinguished before you leave your home or go to bed.

“Always make sure you have a working smoke alarm, and that all your family know the sound it makes and that this means you should leave your home immediately.

“Have a pre-agreed escape plan.”