A HAWICK fire crew manager has described the rescue of a disabled man who awoke in bed to find his wheelchair up in flames as being “extremely lucky”.
An overflowing ashtray and burning cigarette butt have been blamed for the fire which saw the 62-year-old man dial for help at 1.15am last Friday – while he lay unable to move and his bedroom filled with smoke. And although the Corn Mill resident managed to extinguish the flames with a towel before two Hawick appliances and a third from Selkirk had arrived at the scene, crew manager Steve Oliver said a smoke alarm certainly saved his life.
He told the Hawick News: “The gentelman was woken by his smoke alarm and that is undoubtedly what saved him.
“When we arrived he had managed to knock the flames on the wheelchair out himself, but there was a lot of smoke in the bedroom and he had been unable to get himself out of bed.”
The man was rescued from the bedroom and his flat in the 19th century B-listed building, and given oxygen at the scene by ambulance staff after suffering mild smoke inhalation, although he did not require to be taken to hospital.
But Mr Oliver said the incident highlighted not only how vital it is to have a smoke alarm, but to have a mobile or telephone in the bedroom.
He stated: “If this gentleman hadn’t had a phone nearby, he wouldn’t have been able to raise the alarm.”
And further stressing that last week’s incident could have had a more serious outcome, he added: “If the man had lived in Denholm or somewhere we couldn’t reach him as quickly, he wouldn’t have been as lucky.”
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue commented: “It’s very important that people have a working smoke alarm in their property.
“And make sure all smoking materials are properly extinguished each night before going to bed.
“A free home safety visit, during which a free smoke alarm will be fitted, can be arranged by calling 0800 169 0320.”