Sheffield blaze family cheats death

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TWO children and their parents cheated death after their house went up in flames, leaving them trapped upstairs by thick, acrid smoke.

The terrified family of four was given no warning of the blaze raging in their kitchen because there were no smoke alarms fitted in their home on Cawdor Road, Arbourthorne, Sheffield.

By the time they realised their house was on fire, choking black smoke was already billowing upstairs.

Firefighters said the family had a ‘near miss’ - and that lives could have been lost.

The family - a man and a woman in their 20s, and their two daughters, aged four and five - took refuge in an upstairs bedroom, and were given fire survival advice over the telephone, while firefighters raced to the scene.

Crews arrived within four minutes and pushed a ladder up to the bedroom window.

Watch manager Jim Moll, who climbed up to the bedroom, said: “As we pulled up to the address there were plumes of smoke issuing from the house, so as soon as we arrived two crew members with breathing apparatus and a hose went into the kitchen while I climbed up the ladder to the bedroom where the family was and I could see smoke in the room.

“The man had a black face because he had tried a number of times to get downstairs but been beaten back by the thick smoke, which was throughout the house.

“Paramedics gave me oxygen to administer through the window, and as soon as the second crew arrived two more firefighters went upstairs with more oxygen and to give the family reassurance that we would get them out safely.

“I want to praise the actions of the crew members involved for their swift response - the family was very scared, and with people trapped time is of the essence and it is all hands to the deck.”

Once the blaze was out and the property ventilated, firefighters led the family down the stairs to safety.

Station manager Trevor Bernard, who was incident commander, said: “The two crews did fantastically well to fight the fire and give immediate first aid and oxygen to the occupants.

“This is yet another example of where working smoke alarms could have given a family vital extra minutes to escape, and hopefully serves as a reminder for everyone to make sure they have alarms that are working properly.

“This was a near miss - we could easily have been dealing with a tragedy - and I hope it reminds families how valuable smoke alarms are.

“If there had been one it would have bought this family valuable minutes to get out.”

The fire is believed to have been cooking-related and started when the two adults in the house were out of the kitchen.

Firefighters cordoned off the road outside the burning house while their appliances were parked at 10.20am on Sunday, and spent an hour at the scene.

Yesterday Sheffield Homes visited the property to assess the level of damage and whether the house - where the lounge, hall and stairs are black with soot - is still habitable.