It is believed the fire started after an unofficial iPhone charger exploded, leading to the family urging anyone to avoid similar items to help save lives. The property’s upstairs bathroom was decimated by fire damage, with blackened walls and ripped up carpets. Thousands of pounds worth of damage have been caused to the family home of 14 years, and the four, including mother Paula, have since been relocated to Middlesbrough while repair work takes place.
A FAMILY is “fortunate to be alive” after their home was destroyed by fire caused by a “exploding” phone charger. Last Friday, Paul King was downstairs with his youngest son Charlie, five, at home in Firthmoor, Darlington, when he heard a “pop” sound in an upstairs bedroom. The retired father-of-two rushed upstairs to check and acted fast when he saw a mattress engulfed in flames in his 15-year-old son Alfie’s room. Mr King rushed to a neighbouring bathroom to douse the mattress with water, but his own clothes caught fire.
“All the upstairs is going to have to be binned, I’ve lost everything,” Mr King said while assessing the damage. “But possessions can be replaced, your kids can’t.” What started as a “normal Friday morning” soon descended into chaos for the family, who were forced to scramble to safety outside. The King family have relocated to Middlesbrough while repair work takes place on their Darlington home Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT
The King family have relocated to Middlesbrough while repair work takes place on their Darlington home Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT
But Mr King says he is just grateful that his family were not affected. He added: “If it happened in the night it could have been a different story. There’s a lot of cosmetic and smoke damage, which is the problem. It will easily cost thousands to repair.” Read more: County Durham and Darlington comes top of arson tables. An online GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help the family out, but they are keen to return to Darlington as soon as possible.
“I ran up the stairs and the mattress was on fire in the back bedroom,” Mr King said. “Although the flames were about six inches high it only covered apart of the mattress and I thought I could get it out. “I grabbed a hold of it, but just before I got to the bathroom it caught me and burnt my trousers. I had to let go and make sure everyone was out the house. The fire brigade quickly arrived on the scene and extinguished the blaze – and it was then that it was confirmed the phone charger caused the fire.
Mr King said: “It’s the perfect home for all of us. We’ve been here for 14 years, we know everyone in the area and it’s perfect for all the children’s special needs. I just want to get back here, get it gutted and return to a normal life.” The devastating damage has also prompted the family to issue a serious public appeal: “It was a cheap charger, it had a nick in it and that’s what’s caused it. I’d advise anybody – do not buy a cheap charger,” Mr King added. “I’m gutted but I am grateful that the kids are alright and it could have been a lot worse.”
Fire at a house on Fenby Avenue started by a phone charger Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT. County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service community safety manager, Glen Stewart, said: “We would like to urge all residents not to leave their phones charging on their beds, sofas or underneath pillows. The devices can heat up exceptionally quickly, and when left on a combustible surface, this becomes a recipe for disaster.
“This particular fire seems to have begun within the cable itself, rather than the mobile phone. We would urge people to use the manufactures supplied equipment and check the chargers that they are using to ensure they are not damaged, frayed or have exposed wires, as these can all lead to a fire beginning. “Thankfully this family were lucky to detect the fire straight away, get out of the house and alert our control room, which meant our crews responded quickly and extinguished the fire without anyone being injured.”
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