Father Warns Of Candle Fire Dangers

A father whose house was destroyed in a fire caused by a tea light candle is warning people not to become victims in their own homes as Candle Fire Safety Week takes place.

Gordon Kearney, 68, has backed Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s fire safety message as part of Candle Fire Safety Week, which runs from November 19 to November 25.

A smoke alarm saved his life however his two dogs died in the blaze, which happened on the afternoon of December 27 last year.

The father-of-three had left two tea light candles burning on top of the TV at his home on Banner Street, in Wavertree.

He went upstairs, leaving the candles unattended in the living room. It is believed the candles had set fire to the TV, which spread to the settee.

Mr Kearney, who was widowed two years before and lived alone, said: “The next thing I knew the smoke alarm was going off. It was just as well that I had one of them.”

He went downstairs and his two dogs Macker and Peggy were trapped in the living room. When he opened the door, they ran into the kitchen and then fled to the upstairs bedroom.

Mr Kearney said: “The living room was full of smoke. The settee had caught fire. The whole room was engulfed.

“I called the dogs but they wouldn’t come down because of the smoke and they died in the fire.

“It was horrendous. I just thought I need to get out. It was quite terrifying.

“The neighbours had seen the fire and booted the front door in but couldn’t get in because of the flames.”

He managed to escape to a back door, where his neighbour, Terry Hughes, helped him to safety. Luckily his back door was open, as he had left the keys in the living room.”

Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire, however it destroyed many belongings he had collected throughout his life and Mr Kearney was forced to move home.

He said: “I lost my home. I lost everything. It was terrible. It was a lifetime’s worth of stuff gone.”

Mr Kearney was taken to the Royal Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, where he was on a ventilator for three days.

He added: “I would say to people don’t leave candles unattended and don’t put them on top of the TV.

“If I didn’t have a smoke alarm I would have been in real trouble.”

As part of Candle Fire Safety Week, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has issued a safety message, especially with more candles being used as a result of the darker nights and during Christmas.

In Merseyside, from April 2008 to March 2012, there were 183 fires caused by candles or incense burners. Five people have died from candle fires in that time and 43 people have been injured.

Watch Manager Mark Jones, of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We urge people to take the greatest care when using candles.

“People should ensure that candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire.

“Children should never be left alone with lit candles. Lit candles should not be left unattended and should be put out at night.

“They should also be lit in a well-ventilated room but away from drafts to prevent rapid or uneven burning.”

:: Photo shows Gordon Kearney, whose home was destroyed in a candle fire. Photo copyright Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS).

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