An elderly couple are understood to have started a blaze after putting candles on their Christmas tree. Smoke can be seen pouring from the house in Worthing in images taken on Christmas Day afternoon.
Fire engines rushed to the scene and the road was closed off as they fought the blaze. The devastated couple have now lost their home, and are understood to be in hospital recovering from the effects of smoke inhalation as well as burns to their hands.
Adrian Murphy, area commander with the West Sussex Fire and Rescue service, said that the bungalow had been totally gutted by the fire. He added: “If you catch a Christmas tree on fire, they are spectacular. They turn into a huge ball of fire. It would have involved the whole room very quickly.”
Commander Murphy added that he believed the two were from Germany and were trying to show their grandchildren how a traditional Germany Christmas involved putting candles on the tree. He said he believed their grandchildren were fairly young, adding that putting real candles on a tree was very dangerous indeed.
He said that it was fortunate that no one had been seriously injured in the fire. Fire officers had been worried that there could have been people still in the home when they arrived on the scene. However, the elderly couple, their children and their grandchildren were all accounted for.
The fire came shortly after another in Birmingham, which left four family pets dead. That fire, in an upper flat, left two families without a home on Christmas Day. Fire officers said that no one had been injured, but sadly three dogs and a cat were killed in the fire. The flat below suffered water damage from the water used to put out the fire, while the nextdoor property had smoke damage.