Barnoldswick couple’s fire escape terror

Barnoldswick couple Tina and John Botterill were rescued by firefighters from the roof of their home. G101111/3

Barnoldswick couple Tina and John Botterill were rescued by firefighters from the roof of their home. G101111/3

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A BARNOLDSWICK couple have spoken about their terrifying ordeal escaping from a house fire believed to have been caused by a defective fridge freezer.

John and Tina Botterill’s house in Walmsgate has been gutted by the blaze which left them hospitalised.

Fire crews from Barnoldswick, Earby and Colne were called to tackle the fire in the three-storey cottage just after 2 a.m. last Friday.

Tina (66) recalled the nightmare of waking up to find the couple’s home on fire. She said: “I must have woken up around 1-45 a.m. when I heard a noise downstairs, followed by a great big bump. At first, I thought it was my husband who gets up early for work.

“I couldn’t smell smoke at first but very quickly there was very dense smoke coming up the stairs.

“I called up to John ‘I think we’re on fire’ and he called 999, luckily before it was too late to see anything. I rushed to open windows to breathe better.

“John said the only way out would be through the top floor window in the study on to the roof of the extension. Looking back, it’s hard to believe we got out. I had a knee replacement four months ago and John normally wears a splint to be able to walk, which he didn’t have on.

“Almost instantly, the ambulance and fire service were there and they got us off the roof. I have no idea how they got John down the ladder.”

Tina was left with a broken finger and she and John (68) were hospitalised because of smoke inhalation. John’s condition was more serious and he was kept at Airedale Hospital for an extra day.

In the aftermath of the experience, Tina said the couple realise how close they came to not surviving the fire.

“At the time, adrenaline kicks in and carries you through,” she said. “We didn’t have time to be terrified. Looking back now I am terrified and can’t sleep at night because I am re-living it. We know how close we were to snuffing it.”

The couple were shocked to learn the cause of the fire was their fridge freezer, a Beko model which has been subject to a product recall because of reports of a faulty defrost timer.

She said: “The fridge was left here when we moved in two years ago, and the man before us had it for four years. He knew nothing about it either. Just because we didn’t read the news on one particular day, we had no reason to think there was a problem with the fridge.

“It is amazing something like that can cause so much damage.”

Barnoldswick’s Fire Watch Manager Mick Strickland said the couple had been lucky as they had no smoke alarms installed in their home.

He said: “By the time we got there, the house was heavily smoke-logged. It is lucky they woke up when they did. Another few minutes and it could have been a very different story.

“We have been leaflet dropping in the area, just to make sure people are aware they can call us to come and install smoke alarms for free, and also to make people aware of the importance of having an escape plan in place.”

Tina said she and husband John are now concentrating on rebuilding their lives.

“We just have to look forward now. We need to find somewhere to rent as the house will need completely redoing. The kitchen is totally burnt out and the conservatory was melting. The rest of the house is smoke damaged.

“Through it all, everybody has been fantastic; the neighbours have been marvellous and we have to thank the emergency services for everything they have done for us.

“It is important nobody else has to go through what we have, so everyone should check their fridge freezers aren’t part of the safety warning.”

A spokesman for the appliance firm said: “Beko has been in contact with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service to understand more about this incident and will remain in close contact with them as they undertake their investigations.”

Anyone concerned about their Beko fridge freezer can check the safety warning model list at www.beko.co.uk or call the free phone number 0800 009 4837.