A mother and her two young sons had to flee their home after an electrical fault caused a kitchen socket to burst into flames.
Charlotte Cooper, 29, who lives on the Lynn Estate in North Shields, was in the living room with her three-year-old and five-week-old boys when she heard a crackling noise coming from the kitchen.
Charlotte said: “It sounded like fireworks, and when I went to see what it was there was smoke pouring out from the washing machine. As I was trying to get my sons out, the cupboard burst into flames and that set the smoke alarm off.
“I went straight out the front door with the kids and got the dog and cat out then rang the fire brigade.”
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s control room received the call at 8.37am on Tuesday, July 14, and two crews from Tynemouth Community Fire Station were despatched to the scene. Firefighters used a hose reel to extinguish the fire.
Charlotte added: “The fire crews were there really quickly and were very reassuring. They also gave my little boy some fire safety advice, so that was nice of them.”
She said following advice from a qualified electrician, her landlord had reinstated the socket with a new type designed to cope with power surges and was due to replace the rest of the sockets.
District Manager for North Tyneside Graeme Hurst, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridges are often fitted under worktops or inside kitchen units, where getting to sockets may be difficult. Ideally, these appliances should be controlled by a switched fuse connection unit mounted above the worktop, where you can reach it easily to turn off the power supply if a problem occurs.”
He added: “I 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.
“It is also 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.”
New regulations expected to come into force on October 1, will make it compulsory for all private landlords to have working smoke alarms on every level of their properties and to ensure carbon monoxide alarms are fitted in properties that burn solid fuels. For more information go to www.twfire.gov.uk/plr
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service offers free Home Safety Checks (HSC) 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. It also includes ensuring that householders have a fire escape plan in place should a fire break out in their home and that they are aware of the importance of a safe night time routine, such as closing doors, unplugging electrical equipment and safe disposal of cigarettes.
For more information on how to stay safe from fire or how to request a Home Safety Check visit www.twfire.gov.uk or www.facebook.com/twfrs or www.twitter.com/tyne_wear_frs or call 0800 0327777.