Closing a door can save lives

A thankful father is praising firefighters after their advice helped him prevent his Gateshead home from burning to the ground.

Craig Sweeney left his terraced home in Kibblesworth to do the school run last month when disaster struck.

His 21-year-old daughter had left a vape on her bedside table whilst they left to pick his younger children up from school.

But despite not leaving it on for too long, the vape exploded, fell onto the bed and started a fire.

When Craig and the children returned, his daughter went up into her bedroom and discovered the fire.

The father-of-three ordered his children out of the building and asked them to call 999 before checking on his poorly wife, who was upstairs in bed.

Thankfully, the bedroom door was closed preventing the fire from spreading through the house – advice Craig had learned from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS).

Nobody was seriously injured during the incident but he, his wife, daughter and his daughter’s boyfriend were all treated for smoke inhalation.

His wife unfortunately had to spend the night in hospital after the incident but has since been discharged and returned home.

Today (Wednesday) 42-year-old Craig is thanking the firefighters that helped him save his home – and his family’s life.

He said “We had just popped out to grab the kids from school and the initial plan was to run to the shop quickly before returning home.

“But I changed my mind as the kids were clearly in no mood once they had finished school.

“When we got back, my oldest went straight upstairs and when she opened the door to her room yelled ‘Dad there’s a fire’

“I panicked. I got the kids and the dogs out the house, woke my wife and turned off the electrics.

“I dread to think what would have happened if we didn’t get back to the house when we did, my wife was upstairs in the next room asleep, The fire could have easily spread.

“Thank god my daughter had closed that door to keep the dogs out of her room, it kept the fire and smoke from spreading to the rest of the house.”

Nicole Mordecai, who leads the Prevention and Education team for the West district, said “Vapes have lithium ion batteries inside them which can be extremely volatile making them prone to overheating and causing fires in the home.

“Even though the vape that cause this incident was bought from a reputable source, it wasn’t plugged in and left charging for long, and was on a hard surface, the nature of the battery can cause fire in the home.

“Thankfully Craig’s daughter closed the door to her bedroom that afternoon, otherwise the situation could have been much worse.

“We would never expect people to tackle a fire in their home, it can be so dangerous and cause significant injuries but we understand that in a moment of panic like Craig was you may just want to act.

“Please check you have working smoke alarms in your property and get in touch if you need new ones fitted, they are the first line of response we have to a fire in the home and they’ve saved countless lives so we want everyone to have them in their homes.

“Remember if you do have a fire in your home, close the doors if you can, this slows the fire and prevents it from spreading through your home, get out, stay out and call 999.”

Due to their batteries, you cannot dispose of vapes in your kitchen bin; they must be taken to your local recycling centre.

When they are put in the kitchen bin, they can start fires in refuse vehicles when they are thrown in on bin day.

TWFRS have a tool on their website that provides home safety advice and allows you request a safe and well check in your home or the home of a loved one.

Visit TWFRS’s website for more information.