A distressed Karen Mayall stands outside her Hunter Street home, which was destroyed by fire early on Christmas Day.
A distressed Karen Mayall stands outside her Hunter Street home, which was destroyed by fire early on Christmas Day.

Entering burning home: dangerous

HIDDEN in the rubble of a Christmas Day house fire that destroyed the home of Brassall couple Karen Mayall and Vic Leonard was an important safety message.

Ms Mayall and Mr Leonard had to flee their home in the early hours of December 25 after an electrical fault sparked a potentially deadly fire.

While the couple escaped unharmed, Mr Leonard returned to the burning home in an effort to fight the flames with a hose and save their pet cats and dogs.

In the end, firefighters were able to save the pets and Mr Leonard suffered serious smoke inhalation, resulting in him spending much of Christmas Day in hospital.

Ipswich station officer Tyson Loetzsch said that while Mr Leonard's actions could be seen as selfless and heroic, returning to a burning home was a Kamikaze mission which could also jeopardise the safety of firefighters.

“A lot of people die running back into burning houses for things like photo albums, pets and personal belongings. It's not worth it,” Mr Loetzsch said.

“In this situation it could easily have been two cats, a dog and a person that perished.”

Summerholm man Kevin Knight passed away on November 13 after returning to a cooking fire which destroyed his home.

Mr Knight, 62, was cooking chips in the kitchen when the fat in the pan caught fire.

He picked up the pan in an attempt to take it outside, but accidentally spilled burning oil on the floor.

Despite suffering burns, he ran back into the house to try to extinguish the flames.

Firefighters visit schools throughout the State to drive home the safety message to kids.

Year 1 students are told to get down low, get out of the house as quickly as possible and stay out once they are out. Mr Loetzsch said the message was no different for the older generations.

“You can certainly understand the adrenaline and panic people feel when they are in that situation, especially if a member of their family is trapped inside a burning home,” he said.

“But going back into a burning home for pets or possessions is basically ludicrous.”

Firefighters also reiterated the importance of dialling Triple-0 as soon as possible in the event of a house fire.

SAFETY ADVICE

IF YOUR HOUSE CATCHES FIRE

Get down low to reduce the amount of smoke you are taking into your lungs and eyes.

Get out of the house as quickly as possible.

Stay out and call Triple-0.

IF YOUR CLOTHES CATCH FIRE

Stop where you are.

Drop quickly to the ground and cover your face with your hands.

Roll over to stop the flames.



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