A BOROUGH family is warning others of the dangers of smoke following a recent house fire.
Gary Malkin, 48, from Whitley Bay was enjoying a day out in Tynemouth with his wife Nicola, 45, and younger son Alfie, 13, when he got a call from his neighbour and his son telling him there had been a fire at his house in Whitley Bay.
Gary’s 16-year-old son Isaac, was in the back garden of the house with a friend when a neighbour shouted to him to get out of the house because they could see smoke coming from an upstairs window.
Gary said: “We’re not entirely sure how it started, we think it was due to his laptop overheating on his bed and catching fire to some clothes it was resting on. We’re all a bit shaken up. What shocked me the most was the smoke. “You often hear how devastating smoke can be but it was just so thick and black and it has caused much more damage than the fire itself. I really want people to be aware of the dangers of smoke - it does not give you much time to get out. “You also see such a difference between the scale of damage between rooms where the doors have been left open and those that were closed. Shutting the doors is not something you always think about – but I do now.”
Isaac’s bedroom was completely destroyed by the fire and the rest of house upstairs severely damaged by heat and smoke.
Mr Malkin had removed his smoke detectors as they were broken and had purchased two news ones but hadn’t had chance to install them.
District manager Peter Iveson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The family were very lucky on this occasion. Had this incident happened during the night the family could have been seriously injured or even killed.
“We urge people to take extra care with electrical items and to never leave them unattended when they are plugged in.
“They can become extremely hot, so it is important to ensure they are always placed on a suitable surface and that they are ventilated. We would strongly advise people to have working smoke alarms and to test them weekly as they can be the difference between life and death.”