Reflecting on a near disaster

A thankful mother is praising the fire service’s quick response after her home was nearly set ablaze – because of a child’s TOY!

Mother-of-two Dannielle has described her horror at the moment she had to call the fire service after her living room was filled with smoke.

She had been rushing around trying to get her four-year-old daughter India and one-year-old son ready for the childminder.

India wanted to grab a toy from the living room of their Gateshead home but when Dannielle opened the door she was confronted by smoke.

She quickly closed the door to ensure the fire didn’t spread and rushed out of her home in Sunniside before calling Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) for help.

Crews from Swalwell and Newcastle Central Community Fire Station were with the 38-year-old in a matter of minutes to begin looking for the fire.

Upon their arrival, the smoke had dissipated and the firefighters were puzzled as to what the source of the fire could be.

Dannielle re-entered the property and was horrified a short time later when she saw the window frame was melting and smouldering.

The sun light was shining on her daughter’s toy mirror and concentrating the heat onto the window frame, causing the PVC to burn.

She quickly removed it and notified fire crews and now the Service is joining Dannielle in urging the public to be careful when leaving reflective items in direct sunlight.

The construction company Learning and Development Manager today said “If I had been out all day who knows what could have happened.

“It smelt very electrical and the smoke was very hazy, like when you put out a candle. It had burned a black hole into the window frame.

“That living room gets so much light, it can get really hot – I even have to put blankets on the sofas in the summer because it gets so hot.

“Thankfully we were running late that day so we hadn’t left the house yet, if we had, who knows what we’d have come back to.

“I want to thank the firefighters who were here so quickly and who have been really helpful since the incident.

“You wouldn’t think that a child’s toy could put your family at risk. It was a lucky escape for us but someone else may not be so lucky so please be careful.”

Today (Wednesday) Station Manager for Swalwell Community Fire Station Jon Anderson is issuing a warning as the warm weather returns.

SM Anderson said “We’ve had an unusually cold and wet summer so often we don’t think about the sun causing fires in this way.

“But the mirror will magnify the sun rays and bounce them back into your home, we’ve seen fire start from bathroom mirrors left on the window sill.

“Although this doesn’t happen often it can be devastating and as the weather starts to pick up we want you to be safe in your home.

“So make sure you are checking what’s been left out before you go to bed, including turning off your chargers, so that you aren’t in a similar situation to Dannielle.

“It could be a child’s mirror, it could be a bathroom mirror, or it could be a glass item that can concentrate heat in much the same way.”

If you are worried about fire safety in your home, you can visit TWFRS’s website for a safe and well check in your home.

The online tool provides home safety advice and allows you request a safe and well check in your home or the home of a loved one if you are worried about them.

Safe and well checks are completely free of charge and can provide you with smoke alarms, additional fire safety resources can be issued if appropriate to make your home safer.