Doncaster man lucky to be alive

Fire damaged house in Balby.
Fire damaged house in Balby.

A smoker who fell asleep with a burning cigarette sparking a blaze in his Doncaster home admitted today: “I’m lucky to be alive.”

Bill McLaren, aged 61, was only saved because of a working smoke alarm at his home in Balby. Yesterday he and his family were busy cleaning up the mess in the living room of his semi-detached house on Haigh Road.

Fire damaged house in Balby.

Fire damaged house in Balby.

Bill had a lucky escape when his settee went up in flames after he dozed off while smoking.

Firefighters say they were amazed to find he was not seriously burned when they arrived at the scene at around 8.15pm on Thursday.

Bill escaped from the house with slight smoke inhalation. Fire officers stressed that having a working smoke alarm has probably saved his life.

Bill, who was in the house on his own, had fallen asleep on the settee in the living room while smoking a cigarette.

The furniture caught fire and was quite badly burned but the occupant was woken by the smoke alarm going off and was out of the house by the time Doncaster fire crews arrived.

A still shocked Bill said: “I know I’m lucky to be alive. If it wasn’t for the smoke alarm I wouldn’t be here now.

“I’ve been up since 6am trying to clean up the mess.”

The sofa was destroyed and the room will need complete redecorating but damage was confined to the one room.

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We were quite surprised he was not more seriously injured because of the amount of damage to the settee and living room.

“This incident shows the danger of not ensuring that smoking materials are properly put out.

“It also proves that smoke alarms do save lives. This was a very lucky man.”

Bill was checked over by paramedics but is not believed to have needed hospital treatment.

The incident has prompted the fire service to issue a reminder about home safety.

The spokesman added: “We are urging people to make sure that they have working smoke alarms in their home, this incident proves that smoke alarms can save lives.”

To keep your smoke alarm in good working order:

* Test it once a week, by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds

* Never cover it or remove the batteries

* Change the battery once a year