Neighbour backs fire safety scheme after avoiding disaster

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A NEIGHBOUR today warned about the importance of smoke alarms after a kind gesture almost turned into disaster.

Catherine Johnson was cooking a meal for her unwell friends who live next door when she forgot about the pan as she chatted to the neighbour.

They alerted her to the blaze at her Horden home after hearing the smoke alarm beep and called firefighters for help.

The crew forced their way in to the house to discover the oil was smoking.

Station manager Andrew Allison, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Without the smoke alarm alerting the neighbours this fire could have developed and caused major damage.

“As it is the kitchen just needed a bit of a clean-up from some minor smoke damage.

“The alarm was fitted by us a few months ago as part of a free home fire safety check and without it things could have turned out very differently.”

While the fire crew were at the scene they also fitted smoke alarms and carried out a free home fire safety check for the neighbours Catherine had been helping.

Catherine said: “Andrew asked me if he could use my story to try to get more people to get the home fire safety checks and fit smoke alarms.

“I agreed as this type of thing has never happened to me before, so it could happen to anyone.”

Anyone in County Durham can call the service for a free home fire safety check by calling 332 4222 or by visiting for more information on fire safety.