A PANIC-STRICKEN woman was given life-saving advice from a 999 operator when she was trapped in her blazing Sheffield home.
Sinead Bowden, aged 23, said she was lucky to be alive today after she was rescued by firefighters when her kitchen went up in flames.
She was trapped inside her parents’ home on Romsdal Road, Crookes, when a microwave caught fire because of a suspected electrical fault.
The call centre worker was woken by the smell of burning and found her bedroom full of smoke.
She rang 999 and the operator gave her safety advice and kept her calm while fire crews rushed to the scene.
A dramatic recording of her 999 call captured her crying hysterically and pleading for firefighters to arrive.
She told the 999 telephone operator, Liam, she was ‘scared’ and ‘terrified’.
Her house was full of smoke and fumes were getting into her bedroom under the door and through her window.
She said: “I was asleep in my bed when I started to smell something funny.
“I opened my eyes and my room was full of smoke.”
“I got up, ran downstairs and tried to get out of the front door but couldn’t. I looked into the living room and realised smoke was coming from the kitchen.
“I shut the living room door, ran upstairs and shut the bedroom door. I dialled 999, opened the window and just started screaming my head off.”
Sinead said the control room operator advised her to block the bottom of the door with a dressing gown and lie on the floor.
The whole downstairs of the house was left smoke damaged and Sinead’s parents Collette and Aidan Bowden now face a repair bill running into thousands.
Sinead said the firefighters were ‘amazing’, adding: “They saved my life. I was very lucky to have woken up when I did.
“I had an extremely lucky escape, the battery in our smoke alarm was the wrong way round so it didn’t go off.
“The guy who answered the phone just kept me so calm and advised me what to do.”
Two fire crews from Central and Rivelin stations arrived and led her to safety.
“I heard them trying to break the door down,” Sinead said.
“I was saying ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.’ The firefighters got me some oxygen and walked me down the stairs.
“The bag I was breathing into was just black.”
She said investigations indicated the microwave probably caused the blaze at around 9.50am on Monday.
The three-year-old appliance was not being used, but was plugged in and the socket was switched on.
The family has had to move out temporarily.
TELEPHONE CALL TRANSCRIPT:
Operator: Two fire engines are on their way - two. Place your dressing gown at the bottom of your door. Stay on the phone to me and listen to the advice I am giving you.
Sinead: I’ve done it.
Operator: That’s going to minimise the amount of smoke coming in through the door. Is there a bedroom window you can open?
Sinead: Yes a fire escape one. I’m sat at it now.
Operator: Are you able to get through it?
Sinead: Yes I can but it’s a long way down though.
Operator: Is there smoke coming up through that window?
Operator: I can understand you are scared.
Sinead: I’m terrified.
Operator: I can understand you are terrified, I just need you to listen to the things I am saying and I need you to talk to me.
Is there any other room in the property that you can get into that’s not going to have smoke in it?
Sinead: No, it’s everywhere.
Operator: The room that you are in, close the bedroom window if there is smoke.
Sinead: I can’t get out though. Come and get me please.
Operator: I promise you we are coming.
Sinead: Sit on the floor away from the window and away from the door.
I can understand you are going to be scared, I’ve got two fire engines on their way for you, I promise you.
Sinead: Where are they?
Operator: One is literally coming round the corner now.
Sinead: Are you sure? You are not lying?
Operator: No I don’t lie to you. I don’t get paid to lie to you, I promise you that.
Sinead: Oh my God, I am so scared.
Operator: What I need you to do is breathe nice and slowly. I have a fire engine now on School Road, which is the main road at the bottom of your road.
Sinead: Yes it is, yes it is. Please get me out of here.
Operator: They are going to come and get you out of there I promise. There’s a fire engine now just about to turn up your road.
They might want to fight the fire first.
Sinead: Oh my God
Operator: They will come and get you when it’s the best time to come and get you. But at the moment you are safe in that room. The window is closed and the door is closed.
You are in the best place at this moment. I know it’s hard to accept and understand but you are in the best place at the moment. They will be doing whatever they need to do to get access to your property and they will come and get you. Take nice slow breaths, they are probably already in but what they want to do is put the fire out totally. Stay on the phone. We are going to get you out I promise you.
Sinead: I think they are here.
By Richard Blackledge