Yarmouth family’s fire drama

PUBLISHED: 17:05 02 November 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 04 November 2010

Gary Williams with the chip pan and its melted off handle which caught fire at his home at The Steeps in Great Yarmouth at the weekend

Gary Williams with the chip pan and its melted off handle which caught fire at his home at The Steeps in Great Yarmouth at the weekend


A GREAT Yarmouth family have described their terror at fleeing a wall of fire 10ft high after a chip pan ignited in their kitchen.

Gary Williams, 43, his wife Jayne, 36 and their daughter Bailey, ten, ran from their rented home at The Steeps in Exmouth Road as flames reaching up to the ceiling threatened to engulf their property.

Fortunately, firefighters from Yarmouth were able to extinguish the blaze before it extended to the rest of the house, though the family have had to stay with friends in Exmouth Road while waiting for Broadland Housing Assocation to repair the oven and kitchen walls, which were black with soot.

The family had just sat down to eat a pie and mash and watch TV show the X Factor on Sunday evening when smoke began to fill the kitchen from a chip pan filled with oil inside the oven, which had been put on self clean mode.

Mrs Williams had left the old pan on the hob while she was cooking and then moved it inside the oven as the family’s cats Poppy and Charlie, both six, like to lick the oil from the pan.

However, when she returned to the kitchen with her husband she found the air thick with white smoke and saw orange flames developing within the pan.

A frantic situation then took a turn for the worse when water dripped from a cloth she had soaked into the pan, stoking the blaze even further which burned her hand and foot and forced her to duck for cover in the corner.

Fortunately, Edward Worlledge school pupil Bailey, who had been upstairs watching a video, heard her father’s anguished calls for her to get out of the house and grabbed her pet dog Bramble, one, before running across the road to alert neighbours who called the fire service.

Having ensured his daughter’s safety, Mr Williams then dragged his wife out seconds before she would have suffered serious injury or worse.

The unemployed former car mechanic, who lost his job at Affordable Cars in Yarmouth during the recession, said: “I have never seen anything like it, the way it went up. It was like a wall of fire.

“The fire brigade said if she had been in there much longer she would not have been with us or would have been severely burned.”

Trainee nurse Mrs Williams received treatment for burns to her right hand and foot at James Paget University Hospital. The rest of the family and pets escaped unharmed.

Alan Jaye, watch manager at Yarmouth fire station, advised people not to use older chip pans, but modern thermostatically-controlled fryers.

He said the water had aggravated the flames, though the situation was largely under control when fire crews arrived as a wet cloth had been put over the pan.

“The family had a lucky escape due to what had happened with the water,” he added.

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