Mother-of-five relives Christmas tree fire horror
- Credit: Rebecca Rose
After enduring Covid restrictions and being forced to sell her home to keep her business afloat, Rebecca Rose didn't think her year could get much worse.
But little did she know that this year had one more nasty surprise in store for her – one which will force Mrs Rose, her husband and their five children to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation.
At around 8am on Monday, December 14, as her children were getting ready for school, they alerted her to the fact their Christmas tree was ablaze in the living room of their newly-refurbished flat on Shipdham Road in Dereham.
The blaze, which was caused after pet dog Coco chewed through the wire of lights on the Christmas tree, caused a large amount of smoke damage and rendered their home uninhabitable.
Now, the 30-year-old owner of Hair Now, Beauty Now in Dereham is urging others to "think twice" before putting up Christmas decorations and leaving festive lights unattended.
"I had just got the kids ready for school and went into the kitchen to write a letter for my 10-year-old's PE teacher.
"My two youngest kids, aged three and five, ran into the kitchen and I saw the look on their faces and didn't think twice, I just picked up the tree and threw it out the window."
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, who were on the scene of the fire just four minutes after being called, told the mother-of-five the tree was only inside the flat for 30 seconds when it caused serious smoke damage to the living room and two beauty rooms in the salon below.
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All five children, Rocco, three, Isaac, five, Lily-Rose, 10, and Bradley, 13, along with Mrs Rose and pet dog Coco made it out of the flat with no injuries.
Mrs Rose said: "I have never had puppies before, I have only ever rescued older dogs and didn't think about the damage Coco could have done.
"We had only just renovated the flat and the salon over the last two lockdowns, but so much more damage could have been done.
"I'm so lucky the kids told me within seconds and that I wasn't downstairs or in the shower because it could have been so much worse."
The family of seven are now staying in temporary accommodation in Yaxham Waters Holiday Park while their home is professionally cleaned and repaired, meaning the family will not be spending Christmas in their own home.
Mrs Rose said she "couldn't believe" how quickly the tree went up in flames.
"The amount of damage caused in just 30 seconds was insane," said Mrs Rose. "There is black smoke and ash all over the ceiling and walls, melted plastic all over the new laminate floor, decorations destroyed and the curtains were also melted.
"At the end of the day decorations and furniture can be replaced, but lives can't. I want to encourage other people to think twice before leaving decorations unattended or even putting them up in the future."
"I'm just so thankful that my children are healthy, business is okay and we will be able to enjoy Christmas."
The 30-year-old thanked the emergency services and the public for their kindness during the incident.
She said: "I can't thank the people who stepped in to help me on that day enough, one of the salon staff, Tracey, was on the school run when it happened and she came to make sure the salon was okay, make sure we were fine and was a real trooper.
"It's restored my faith in knowing there are good people out there, so many people came to ask if we were okay and offered to take the kids to school, I can't thank them enough."
Stuart Ruff, chief fire officer, said the fires highlighted the dangers of leaving decorations unattended or unprotected, and urged people to take extra care to keep their families safe over Christmas.
Mr Ruff said: "This house fire shows the importance of having correctly installed, working fire alarms. It takes one minute to check the alarms in your house each week, but could be something that saves lives in an emergency.
"Our advice is to keep real Christmas trees well watered, not to overload plug sockets, and consider whether lights or trees are vulnerable to pets or young children.”