A PARTRIDGE Green couple had a lucky escape when their home caught fire as they slept in the early hours of Thursday morning.
David and Judy Jones, of Wilton Close, were woken at 2.30am by a ‘choking feeling’ to find their bedroom ‘full of smoke’.
“There was so much smoke I couldn’t see the clock,” said Mrs Jones, “I was having trouble breathing and there was a really strong smell like burning dust off a heater.”
Her husband leapt out of bed and found smoke ‘billowing’ out of a faulty immersion heater in the second floor bedroom airing cupboard.
He said: “I came downstairs to find a lot of white smoke, and the dogs were barking quite a bit.
“I saw the smoke and felt the back of the cupboard and I realised it was alight. Then I called the fire brigade.”
West Sussex Fire and Rescue crews from Partridge Green and Henfield arrived at the scene at about 3am.
Firefighters threw flaming and smouldering clothes, towels, duvets and sleeping-bags out the window onto the front lawn before bringing the fire under control.
Meanwhile, paramedics treated the couple and gave Mrs Jones oxygen after she coughed up ‘black gunge’.
Mr Jones explains how they were ‘incredibly lucky’ to have woken up considering their smoke alarm did not activate.
“I had changed the batteries in my smoke alarm a couple of months back.
“The batteries were in properly but you have to slide a guard over and I hadn’t pushed it in and secured it.
“We would have struggled to make it out alive if we’d left it any longer.”
Joe Bullingham, watch commander at Partridge Green fire station, said: “The smoke detectors weren’t working and as a result of that the smoke built up and the dogs were reported to have been barking like crazy.
“The occupants really did have a lucky escape - the consequences of a non-working smoke alarm could have been fatal.
“If they had left it longer they would have had to pass the fire before leaving the property, which is a ghastly thought.
“We want to encourage people to check their smoke alarms are working on a weekly basis. It’s an easy thing to put to one side and it’s always on that list of things to do.
“With Christmas just around the corner this can act as a warning and a reminder to check your smoke alarm.
The watch commanded added: “We offer fire safety checks where we come round and have a one to one chat and point out the areas of concern in the property with a view to improve safety.”
Meanwhile Mrs Jones is just thankful they were ‘incredibly lucky’.
“We were only in the house for around ten minutes,” she said, “and I was coughing up black gunge, so it just goes to show how fast it affects you.
“We would like to say thank you to the fire crews - they were brilliant. Thanks to our neighbours also, who have been very thoughtful.”
For more information visit www.westsussex.gov.uk