Staffordshire firefighters are warning people about the risks of using chargers which are incompatible with their mobile phones following a serious house fire which claimed the lives of a family's pets.
The three residents of the property in Turner Avenue, Newcastle, escaped unhurt - but their cat, two chipmunks and a ferret died in the fire, which left the house badly damaged.
An investigation revealed that the blaze was caused by a phone charger which was not the original charger supplied with the phone. The charger and the phone had been plugged into an extension lead in an upstairs bedroom.
The three occupants were alerted to the blaze at around 4.40pm on July 11 when the downstairs smoke alarms were activated. When they went to check the situation, they noticed a fire at the end of the bed where the phone was on charge, and a large amount of smoke in the room.
The residents immediately evacuated the house and called 999. Crews from Newcastle and Hanley wore breathing apparatus and used a hose reel jet to extinguish the fire.
Householder Karan Wedgwood urged people to be vigilant when buying electrical equipment.
"I cannot stress enough the severity of the damage that was caused by what we now know was an incompatible phone charger," she said. "It has absolutely destroyed our home and, far worse, we have lost some of our much loved pets which is devastating.
"The smoke has damaged every room in the property and it will take a long time to sort everything out. The experience was terrifying and we are still in shock. I would urge people to make 100 per cent sure that any electrical equipment they buy is the real thing. It might cost more money but it could save your life and your family’s life. It is that simple."
Watch Manager at Newcastle Jason Richards added: "This fire highlights just how crucial it is to have working smoke alarms throughout your property. The outcome could have been even more devastating if this had not been the case. It is important to ensure that all electrical items are safe to use and if you are in doubt of whether a device is the genuine article, don’t buy it – it isn’t worth the risk."
The Service is urging anyone who is concerned about fire safety to book a free Home Fire Risk Check.
They are available to anyone who lives in Staffordshire or Stoke-on-Trent. People can arrange for crew members or trained technicians to visit their property at a time that is convenient for them.
They will speak to residents about safety in the home and, using this information, try to identify and minimise risk from fire. If a property does not have working smoke alarms, the Service will fit them.
To book a HFRC call Freephone 0800 0241 999, text 07528 983101 or visit www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/bookyourhfrc.asp