Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
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Incident Date: 26 November 2016
AN elderly couple who found themselves trapped in their home as their kitchen was engulfed in flames were today described as ‘lucky to be alive’ by the firefighters who rescued them.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said three fire engines from Wigan and Hindley Fire Stations raced to the bungalow in Eskdale Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield, just after 11pm yesterday.
On arrival firefighters discovered an elderly couple in their 70s trapped behind their front door as their kitchen was ravaged by fire. The couple could not find their keys and were struggling to breathe as toxic smoke filled their home.
Watch Manager Gareth Gray explained: “The couple had been watching the television in the living room and had heard some noises but thought they were coming from outside. The elderly man had gone out through the conservatory door to look at what they were. When he came back inside he found his kitchen completely engulfed in flames and when he opened the door an explosion occurred which sent glass shards flying through the air.”
Watch Manager Gray described how the couple then made their way to the front of the bungalow but were unable to find their keys to unlock the door.
He added: “The smoke was becoming overwhelming. Luckily for them they had recently had some work done at the house and a builder had left a spanner close to the front door. They used it to break some of the glass at the front of the house and were able to take in some fresh air to survive while we arrived. I honestly believe that if it hadn’t been for that spanner they would have succumbed to the smoke.”
The kitchen at the property was completely destroyed in the fire. Firefighters believe a ring on the hob of the oven had been left on and had set alight to a deep fat fryer stored on top. The couple were both cared for at the scene by paramedics from North West Ambulance Service and were taken to hospital for further treatment for smoke inhalation. The man also suffered cuts to his hand from breaking the glass in the front door.
Watch Manager Gray added: “There are a number of safety messages here for people to think about. This couple have been very lucky but it could have been much worse. Please think about your escape plan and in particular think about where you keep your keys – would you be able to find them in an emergency?
“The couple did have smoke alarms in their home – but they were not working. Please, please, please test your smoke alarms every week. They are your first defence and will alert you to fire in your home allowing you as much time as possible to get out before the smoke becomes overwhelming – which it does incredibly quickly.”
For more home safety advice please see www.manchesterfire.gov.uk where an entire section is dedicated to keeping you safe. For a free safety check or Safe and Well Visit please call 0800 555 815.