Smoke alarms alert Sunderland man to washing machine fire

Arthur Butler's kitchen after his washing machine caught fire.
Arthur Butler's kitchen after his washing machine caught fire.
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Safety advice provided by fire officers helped save a Wearside man and his home when a suspected electrical fault caused his washing machine to catch fire.

Arthur Butler, of Bellamy Crescent, in the Town End Faem area Sunderland, was doing his laundry when he noticed the machine had stopped before completing its cycle.

He checked the fuse box and, seeing it had tripped, switched it back on and the machine started to run again.

Once the cycle had finished, Mr Butler went outside to hang his washing on the line and continued with his jobs outside.

When he came back into the house he could smell smoke, however this was not visible in the kitchen.

He looked in the soap powder draw and smoke came out.

Mr Butler then noticed the cable to the washing machine was burning and the smoke turned black, so he evacuated the property, closing the kitchen door on his way out, before dialling 999.

Two fire crews from Marley Park and Washington Community Fire Stations attended the incident and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the fire using a hose reel.

The fire completely destroyed the washing machine and spread to a tumble dryer which was also destroyed.

The kitchen was severely damaged by smoke; however the rest of the house was unaffected due to the fire being contained in the kitchen.

Mr Butler said: “I had a free home safety check from the fire service two years ago, and I remembered the advice I was given about closing doors and getting out of the house if there was a fire.

“I’ve got four smoke alarms fitted and they all worked, so if I had been in another room or outside I would have known there was a fire.”

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service offers free home safety checks to people who are more vulnerable to having a fire, as well as to those who have had a fire.

This includes checking that people have working smoke alarms, that they are in the right place and fitting smoke alarms if required.

Prevention and Education Watch Manager Nicole Mordecai, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Mr Butler did everything right in this situation and it is good to know that the advice he received during our home safety check was put into action.

“It is advisable for every household to have an escape plan so everyone knows what to do if a fire happens during the day or night.

“Never try to tackle a fire, always get everyone out, stay out and call 999.

“I also recommend everyone to have working smoke alarms fitted in their home.

“They give you and your family an early warning of fire, which can then give you the vital minutes you need to escape.

“They really can mean the difference between life and death.”

For more information on how to stay safe from fire or how to request a home safety check visit or or or call 0800 0327777.