An Eaton Socon woman has described how she watched in horror as her house became engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes after a fire broke out in her tumble dryer.
Suzanne Gibson, aged 69, of Marchioness Way, told the Hunts Post that she and her husband Stuart, aged 71, lost everything in the blaze that ripped through the terrace property on January 5. The couple, who have been married for 51 years, lost their precious wedding album and most of their family photos and all their personal items, including their clothes.
Mr Gibson, who has restricted mobility, was in hospital when the fire broke out and his wife believes he would not have got out in time as the flames spread so quickly.
“He usually has a sleep in the afternoon so he would have been in the bedroom above the kitchen and I don’t think he would have made it,” she said.
Describing the moment she realised something was wrong, she added: “I was sitting in the kitchen when I heard a loud noise coming from the tumble dryer. I went over to it and opened the door and there were flames in there, about a foot high. The flames doubled in size in seconds and I knew I had to get out.”
Mrs Gibson said by the time she had walked the short distance down the garden path and shouted for help, the fire had spread and thick black smoke was pouring from an upstairs bedroom window.
“I shouted ‘help’ and some of the neighbours heard and they took care of me. One lady sat me in her car and then went off to buy me some new clothes from a charity shop.
Mrs Gibson’s daughter, Christine, who lives nearby, in Knights Close, has praised the community spirit that day and thanked two teenage boys who stepped in to help.
“The first we knew, there was a knock on the door and these two lads stood there and said ‘your mum’s house is on fire’. One of my mum’s neighbours told them where I live and even though they didn’t have a house number they found me. The community have been fantastic and we want to thank people for everything they have done. The fire service were brilliant too and they did manage to save a few photos, which we have managed to dry out.”
Mrs Gibson had only had the tumble dryer for about 18 months and it was cleaned out regularly to remove the fluff. She says she will not be buying another one as she believes had she not been in the room at the time, she too would have struggled to get out as the flames spread in minutes.
She is currently staying with her daughter and her husband remains in hospital, but she is pragmatic about the future.
“You just have to take a deep breath and get on with things,” she said.
“It has been a shock and I will never have another tumble dryer, but I hope the house can be sorted out and we can go back there at some point.”