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24 October 2016, 10:11
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is repeating warnings about candle safety, and the importance of working smoke alarms, after a house fire in Worthing last night.
At 9.33pm a 999 call was received from two people who said they were trapped upstairs in a house with a fire below. Three fire crews from Worthing were mobilised, with the first appliance on scene in less than four minutes.
While crews were on their way colleagues at the Sussex Control Centre gave fire survival advice over the phone and were able to share additional information to the oncoming crews.
Firefighters were quickly able to rescue a 17-year-old male, a 50-year-old female and a dog from the property using a short extension ladder.Meanwhile, other crew members, wearing breathing apparatus, forced their way into the house and quickly extinguished the fire on the ground floor of the three-storey mid-terraced property.
The fire was started accidentally by candles setting the curtains and flooring alight. Both occupants were checked over by South East Coast Ambulance crews and no further treatment was required. Incident Commander Darren Wickings said: “This was a team effort - the control operators reassured the trapped residents, keeping them calm, whilst we were on route.
We knew exactly where they were located, even before arriving on scene. Upon arrival, they were at the first floor window awaiting rescue, with the rest of the house heavily smoke logged.” The 17-year-old was praised by the Fire and Rescue Service for his calmness throughout the incident. He was able to put bedding at the bottom of the door, to prevent smoke entering the room, whilst awaiting rescue by ladder.
The occupiers were initially alerted by a smoke alarm on the second floor, but after the fire it was found the detectors on the ground and first floor didn’t work due to missing or flat batteries.
Watch Commander Wickings said: “The working smoke alarm on the 2nd floor undoubtedly saved their lives, however two others weren’t working, which would have raised the alarm sooner. We urge everyone to ensure they have at least one smoke alarm on each level and that they test them regularly. We also advise never to leave candles unattended.”
Further fire safety advice can be found at www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire