Quick thinking Lincoln village couple recall their escape after nightmare house fire

A Lincoln village couple have recounted how an electrical fault with their fridge-freezer turned into their “worst nightmare” when it started a fire in their home.

Last month, Brian and Barbara Milne, both aged 64, from Cherry Willingham were forced to flee their property when they realised a fire had broken out in the kitchen.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue is urging residents to develop and practice a home fire escape plan, after officers helped save their lives.

Brian said: “I remember the day clearly. I was at the front of the house cleaning the windows and my wife Barbara was doing the gardening. She came over to me saying she could smell something strange.

“We went into the house to see what the smell was and as soon as I opened the door I saw a smoky haze. I walked into the kitchen and I could clearly see smoke billowing from our fridge-freezer.

“I opened one of the drawers of the unit and suddenly flames burst out. I thought I need to act quickly here – so I ran out, closing all the doors as I went. As soon as I was outside I called 999.”

His wife Barbara added: “You just don’t realise how much you will panic- nothing can prepare you for that moment.

“It is other things as well that you don’t think about. Because the electrics weren’t working, we couldn’t use the landline to call 999 – we had to use a mobile. Thank goodness we had one!

“The fridge-freezer was integrated into the kitchen when the house was built less than seven years ago, so we never thought anything would go wrong with it.

“The response from the fire service was fantastic. The people in the control room were really reassuring on the phone, calmed us down and talked us through what we needed to do. The firemen arrived within minutes and put the fire out.”

The damage which was caused to their kitchen fortunately did not spread far due to the couple's quick thinking.

The damage which was caused to their kitchen fortunately did not spread far due to the couple’s quick thinking.

Nicky Shipston, community safety advocate at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, said: “A fire in your home is such a traumatic experience and you cannot expect that you will be able to think straight. This is why it is so important to have an escape plan.

“In this case, Brian and Barbara did the best they could, considering the circumstances.

“An ordinary door can hold back a fire for 20 minutes when it’s closed, and it was because Brian and Barbara shut all their doors – they managed to save the rest of their home.

“Thankfully, everyone in the house was up and awake so they were able to get out of the property. If it had happened at night, their smoke alarms would have alerted them to the danger, but there could have been a lot more damage.”

In this incident, the fire in the fridge freezer was caused by an electrical fault.

People can check whether their fridge-freezer or electrical products have been reported as faulty or recalled online here.

For more advice and safety tips on keeping safe in the home, including creating an escape plan visit the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue website here.