Young family ‘lucky to survive’ Wigan house fire blamed on faulty fridge

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An 11-year-old boy, a 14-year-old girl and a woman in her 20s made their way through thick, choking smoke to flee the fire that had broken out in the kitchen of their home in Pagefield Street, Gidlow .

A fire chief says the three are lucky to have escaped and probably wouldn’t have if they hadn’t been alerted by a smoke detector upstairs at 7am on Thursday January 13.

Wigan’s watchman Carl Gleaves said a second alarm downstairs would have prevented much damage and spared the victims such trauma from smoke inhalation for which they were all treated.

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And he also warned people to check white goods, especially those from an older vintage.

A family of four lives in the house but the man was at work. The other three occupants are believed to have been sleeping when the alarm sounded and they opened their doors to find the house filled with smoke.

With an open plan downstairs, the fumes had not been prevented from spreading to the rest of the lower rooms and the wife and children had to escape up the stairs through the toxic smoke to enter the street.

A smoke alarm almost certainly saved the family’s life

Four firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus and a hose reel enter the house to put out the flames which, on their arrival, had ravaged the kitchen.

A positive pressure ventilation machine was used to draw smoke from the rest of the property which is expected to be uninhabitable for several months.

Officers checked neighboring properties which had no damage, but one of which had no smoke alarms at all.

Watch director Gleaves said: “The occupants of the house are very lucky to have survived.

“If there hadn’t been a single working smoke detector upstairs, we would have faced an even more serious incident. As it was, they must have come through quite heavy and thick smoke to go out.

“And the house was very badly damaged. Had there been another alarm downstairs, it’s likely the incident would have been much less serious.

“As far as the cause is concerned, the fridge in the kitchen appears to be the source although at this stage the exact reason is unclear. I would, however, ask people to be mindful of appliances in their property and their age.

“And we can’t get the message across strongly enough about the need for working smoke alarms. When we found out one of the neighbors didn’t have any at all, we immediately gave them some.

“We will also be going around this street later today to give more advice.”

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