THE terror of a South Yorkshire mum and her nine-year-old son after they awoke in their blazing home is revealed today in a horrifying 999 call.
Jane Chapman, aged 33, and her son Matthew were trapped after petrol was poured through the letter box of their Kiveton home and set alight.
Jane made a frantic phone call to emergency services after being woken by a smoke alarm in the two-storey terrace in Ash Grove, Kiveton.
The panic-stricken mother dialled 999 as she plucked her sleeping son from his bedroom and took him into her own at the front of the house.
The panicking mum is heard gasping: “I can’t breathe. I can’t see. I’ve got a little boy here,” as a call centre operator helped them survive the ordeal before firefighters arrived to rescue them from a bedroom window.
The call centre operator gave them advice on how to stay safe as smoke began to seep through the doorway and they both struggled to breathe.
Jane told the operator: “I’m upstairs and the smoke is thick I can’t get out. You’ve got to be really quick. I can’t breathe. I can’t see. I’ve got a little boy here.”
Just seconds before fire engines arrived outside their home, Jane had been preparing to jump with her son from an upstairs window.
She said: “Just before they got there I had Matthew on the windowsill with his legs dangling out.
“I said ‘if they don’t arrive in one minute Matthew, we’re going to have to jump’.
“I heard the alarm sound and as soon as I walked to the top of the stairs I realised we were trapped because the fire had started at the front door.
“I was quite calm at first, but the smoke started to come thicker and faster. The control operator gave us advice on what to do and I’m thankful the firefighters got there when they did, because we were both struggling to breathe.”
Watch Manager Mark Jones said: “The firefighters who rescued the lady and her son saw inside of the bedroom and it was full of smoke.
“I think they only had a couple more minutes left in the room before it got very serious.
“The lady was woken by her smoke alarm, but, after going to get her son from another bedroom, they realised they were trapped because the smoke was coming up the stairs.”
Matthew and Jane were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation following the incident, but neither suffered any serious injury.
However, the fire caused so much devastation they have been forced to move out of the property.
An investigation found the fire was started deliberately after petrol was poured through the letterbox.
Firefighters say the incident is a prime example of how smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death.
Jane said: “We had the smoke alarms fitted by the fire service and I’m just so glad they worked, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here to tell this story.
“I can’t thank the firefighters enough.”
The service, backed by The Star, is encouraging householders to sign up for alerts reminding them to test alarms regularly as part of its Press the Button campaign.
Diane Malpass, head of community safety, said: “Only working smoke alarms save lives.
“We know how easy it is to forget to test your batteries, but by signing up to this free service we promise to give you a regular, gentle reminder which may one day save your life.”
Safety experts say alarms should be tested regularly, ideally once a week. To sign-up to the reminder service, visit www.pressthebutton.co.uk
TRANSCRIPT OF 999 CALL
Jane: Fire service please it’s an emergency. I can’t breathe, it’s all coming up.
Operator: Right listen to me, so your front door’s on fire, can you get out of the back of your property?
Jane: No, cos it’s coming upstairs right fast
Operator: Listen to me.
Jane: Matthew, just stay there darling.
Operator: Can you get out of your house at all.
Jane: No I can’t I’m upstairs and the smoke’s really thick. I can’t get out.
Operator: OK is it a house or a flat?
Jane: It’s a house. Hurry up!
Operator: They are on their way to you. I’ve got two fire engines on their way.
Jane: You’ve got to be really quick because it’s coming in the bedroom
Operator: Yes, listen, so who is in the house? you and your son?
Jane: Yes, just us two.
Operator: Are you in the same room together?
Jane: Yes we are.
Operator: I’m going to stay on the phone with you. Is the door shut in the room that you’re in?
Jane: Yeh, hang on.
Operator: I need you to close the door to the room that you and Matthew are in.
Jane: It doesn’t shut right well.
Operator: Can you put something around the bottom of the door to stop the smoke coming in?
Jane: Matthew, stand near the window please.
Operator: Are you in the bedroom? If you can take your bedding off and put it around the door because we are going to stop the smoke coming into the room you’re in. Is it in the room you’re in?
Jane: Yeh, it’s coming in, that’s why want you to hurry up because I can’t breathe.
Operator: They are on their way to you, I want you to stay calm.
Jane: Matthew, just stand near the window, do not breathe this smoke.
Operator: Do you know where the window is?
Jane: Yeh, I can see out. Stop panicking Matthew, I’ve got a little boy standing her that’s panicking like ‘owt.
Operator: Put your arm around him. The fire engines are on their way. Tell Matthew that I’ve got two fire engines coming to you.
Jane: Matthew keep that scarf over your mouth please.
Operator: Can you breathe? Sit on the floor because there won’t be as much smoke on the floor. The firefighters know that you’re in there.
We’ve got the fire engines on their way to you. What I want you to do is stay as calm as possible. They are very close now, if you listen you will be able to hear them.
Matthew you’re doing really well, where’s your mum? is she still there?
Operator: Are you both still in the room? One of the fire engines is just around the corner and they know where you and your mum are and they are going to get you out.
Are you still there? Do you know where Chestnut Avenue is?
Operator: Cos that’s where the fire engines are now. They are going to be with you very very soon.
You are doing so well.
Matthew can you give the phone back to your mum sweetheart. The ambulances are on their way to you as well.
Jane: alright, thank you.
Operator: They will be seeing to you as soon as you get out.
Can you see the firefighters?
Jane: No, I can’t see anything.
Operator: You can’t see?
shouting in the background as fire crews arrive.
Jane: Yeh, we’re here duck, we’re here, hang on.