‘This could happen to anyone. You think it’s not going to happen, but it can happen to you in a flash’.
That was the message from Chichester mum Allie Sexton, who has spoken of the moment her family narrowly escaped from their home before a tumble dryer fire took hold. (Scroll down for a video).
Two crews from Chichester Fire Station were mobilised to tackle a blaze at Oving Terrace on Wednesday, July 10, shortly after 11.15pm, where she had ‘just minutes’ to get herself, her fiancé Darren Muckle and two children out of their home.
She said: “Our smoke alarm saved our lives, because if that hadn’t gone off it could have been a lot worse. When we realised the tumble dryer was on fire my concern was for my family and getting everyone out of the house.
“This could happen to anyone. You think it’s not going to happen, but it can happen to you in a flash.
“We bought our tumble dryer second hand, and what I would say to people is don’t take that risk. Save up and buy a new one, that way you have that protection.
“Don’t make the same mistake. It’s your family’s lives. It could have been much worse for us, and we’re lucky to be alive.”
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said that, upon arrival, crews found smoke issuing from the property and a fire in the family’s tumble dryer, which they extinguished using one high pressure hose reel, a covering jet and a safety jet. They also used two sets of breathing apparatus, and removed the tumble dryer from the property to ventilate it.
The family were able to make it out safely because their smoke alarm alerted them that something wasn’t right, sparking fresh calls from the fire service for all residents to make sure they have a working smoke alarm and check it at least once a week to ensure they have the ‘earliest possible warning of fire’.
The family have since been moved to alternative accommodation by housing provider Hyde Homes, who installed the smoke alarm. The cause of the fire remains under investigation,
Chichester E Watch Crew Commander Anton Mezzone said: “It was very fortunate that this family had working smoke detection installed in their property. It alerted them to the fire in their tumble dryer in their front kitchen, and thankfully they all got out safely.
“We would encourage all residents to register their electrical appliances online so they are alerted of any product recalls.
“I would highly recommend that residents consider having a Safe and Well visit, formerly known as a Home Safety Visit, from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service to ensure the safety of your family.”
The county fire service has urged residents to check their appliances to ensure they have not been recalled. Residents can register their appliances up to 12 years old on the Register My Appliance website.