'˜Smoke alarms saved us' - Midhurst couple were alerted when fire broke out as they slept

Smoke alarms saved the lives of a Midhurst couple after fire broke out in their home as they slept in their beds early on Monday morning (February 27).

Wednesday, 1st March 2017, 1:02 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:52 am
Ted and Wendy Liddle in the remains of their utility room.ks170113-1

Ted and Wendy Liddle say they are lucky to be alive after an overheated cable started a blaze in the utility room of their Elmleigh home.

Matt Gamblen, Midhurst fire station watch manger said: “As we got there, the fire was just about entering the house, it was that close and if the smoke alarms hadn’t gone off they would still have been asleep in their beds.

“This is a really good example of just how important it is to have properly fitted alarms.”

Ted, a former police officer who now runs Pro-tec, Security said: “I am terrified of fire. I have seen too many and the damage they can cause in my time as an officer.”

As a result the couple have nine fire alarms as well as carbon monoxide alarms and a gas detector.

“Without a doubt the smoke alarms raised our lives.”

Wendy woke shortly after 3am when she heard what she thought was Ted’s mobile phone ringing.

“I realised it was the alarm and I got up. There was a smell, but I thought it was just the wood burner in the sitting room. When I got into the sitting room there was a high swirling white mist and it was the same in the dining room but the kitchen was completely full of it.

“I called Ted and by that time the smoke was pretty acrid down my throat and we got damp towels to put across our faces.”

Ted called the fire service and then tried to find the source of the fire.

Firefighters were on the scene within four minutes and were able to stop the fire spreading into the house. The crews from Midhurst and Petworth used breathing apparatus but were unable to save the utility room which was destroyed. The adjoining garage was also damaged and there was slight smoke damage in the kitchen.

Wendy, well known for her award winning garden which she opens under the National Garden Scheme, lost three freezers, a tumble drier and the contents of the utility room including Ted’s collection of wine.

The couple praised the firefighters: “They were brilliant. They were here so quickly and they stopped the fire spreading into the house,” said Ted.

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