Ditch chip pans plea after spate of South Yorkshire fires

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FIREFIGHTERS were called to three chip pan blazes in just 90 minutes - prompting brigade bosses to again urge South Yorkshire residents to throw out chip pans for their own safety.

Two people needed hospital treatment and another suffered minor burns in a trio of fires in Sheffield and Barnsley.

In Sheffield, 19-year-old Chelsea Skelton had a lucky escape when she was saved by a quick-thinking neighbour who stopped her burning chip pan raging out of control.

Chelsea was cooking dinner with her boyfriend Kieran Bonnett, 20, at their flat on Birchwood Grove, Westfield, and left a chip pan unattended on the hob with the lid on.

The bubbling oil in the pan overheated while she was out of the room - and, panicking, Chelsea threw a cupful of water over the fire when she returned.

Flames shot from the pan to the walls and ceiling, setting them alight - and Chelsea suffered burns to her hands when she tried to pull off the pan lid.

The blaze was prevented from spreading by 43-year-old Philip Garratty, who was visiting relatives next door and took the right action - smothering the fire with a damp tea towel.

Chelsea was taken to hospital to be treated for her burns, while Philip needed treatment for smoke inhalation.

Kieran said the incident ‘could have been a lot worse’ - and vowed the couple will never use a chip pan again following their ordeal.

Two crews from Mansfield Road and Mosborough fire stations were called to Birchwood Grove at 6.35pm on Tuesday.

Watch manager Jeff Simpson, from Mansfield Road, said: “She had a very lucky escape. She had a smoke alarm fitted, but it all happened before the smoke reached it, so she was lucky to get out.

“Chelsea did the wrong thing, but in the heat of the moment people panic.”

Mr Simpson said Philip’s actions were ‘exactly the right thing to do’, but added: “We don’t advise people to put themselves in that sort of danger. Preferably we’d like people not to use pans - use a deep fat fryer, oven chips, or go to the chip shop instead.”

Kieran, a builder, said he and Chelsea, a catering worker at Sheffield Wednesday FC, were shocked by how quickly the flames grew.

“She chucked water on the pan and the kitchen just filled up with flames,” he said.

“We were frightened. It could have been a lot worse. The man next door was visiting, he must have heard the alarm go off - he came round and threw a wet towel on the fire.

“We’re definitely not using a chip pan again.”

Another chip pan fire broke out earlier just before 6pm, in a block of flats on Aldham House Lane, Wombwell, Barnsley.

A man in one of the flats left his chip pan unattended - and, when he found it ablaze, suffered burns to his hands and feet while trying to carry it out onto the landing.

At 5pm, a resident in Thurnscoe was left with a damaged cooker when a pan caught fire. A damp tea towel was used to put out the flames.

Diane Malpass, the fire service’s head of community safety, said: “People might think we preach to them about chip pans, but these incidents show they are a very real danger.

“Throwing away chip pans would help to prevent one of the main causes of serious house fires and injuries.”