Northern Ireland news

Barking dog helps six children escape west Belfast house fire

Gizmo the dog who alerted his owners to a fire at their home in west Belfast. Picture by Matt Bohill 
Staff Reporter

A FAMILY including six children have escaped a fire at a house in west Belfast – after their barking dog Gizmo woke them up.

The fire happened in the Falls Road area at around 6am on Wednesday.

Two adults and six children were in the house at the time and managed to escape before emergency crews arrived.

Fire Service group commander Kevin O'Neill said there could have been deaths if not for the family's dog.

"We are so grateful and so relieved that the family with their six children haven't lost their lives as a result of this fire," he said.

"It was actually their dog that alerted them. Other than that I have no doubt that we would be dealing with a tragedy."

It is thought the fire began when an electrical fault caused a plug to overheat in a teenage girl's bedroom. The fire spread to the bed and the girl suffered burns to her arm against the heated metal bed frame.

"When the plug went on fire it set fire to the base of the bed and then to the mattress and was very close to where the young girl was sleeping," Mr O'Neill said.

"Had it not been for the dog alerting her, her life would have been very much in danger."

Two fire appliances from Springfield Fire Station were sent to the scene but the fire was out before crews arrived at the scene.

Mr O'Neill said there were smoke alarms in the house but they were not working.

He urged householders to make sure they have a smoke alarm and to regularly check that it is working.

"What the family did well is that when they were alerted they all evacuated and waited for the Fire Service to arrive, and they didn't re-enter the house," he said.

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