A father of four from Stafford has warned of the dangers of deep frying in a saucepan after a severe fire destroyed the family home.
"The fire was an absolutely terrifying experience for my family and it is going to take a very long time for us to come to terms with it and to try to move on. The house has been completely destroyed which is devastating for all of us but I will always be grateful that it was only the property that was damaged and that my family got out safely without suffering any injuries."
Andy Nolan is urging other people not to cook using hot oil in a pan and to use a deep fat fryer, which is controlled by a thermostat, instead.
Mr Nolan’s potentially life-saving message follows a fire at his Baswich Lane property on August 21.
It took almost 20 firefighters to tackle the blaze which started in the kitchen before spreading rapidly throughout the rest of the property.
Mr Nolan’s wife Youngok was using hot oil in a pan to cook spring rolls and had momentarily left the room to go upstairs, leaving the pan unattended on a lit hob.
The couple’s two youngest children, nine-year-old Amy and six-year-old Michael, realised that the saucepan had set alight when the smoke alarms went off.
They immediately went to alert their mother and two older sisters, Sarah, aged 13, and Hannah, aged 16, who were upstairs.
The family then fled the detached house, with Sarah dialling 999 on the way out.
Crews from Stafford, Rugeley and Penkridge arrived just after 12.20pm and tackled the fire before leaving the incident at around 3.30pm.
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford will present the children with a letter congratulating them for their actions at Stafford Fire Station on November 18.
Mr Nolan, who was at work when the fire broke out, said: "The fire was an absolutely terrifying experience for my family and it is going to take a very long time for us to come to terms with it and to try to move on. The house has been completely destroyed which is devastating for all of us but I will always be grateful that it was only the property that was damaged and that my family got out safely without suffering any injuries.
"The tragedy of the situation is that it could have been avoided if we had been using a deep fat fryer with a thermostat which would have automatically switched it off when the temperature reached a certain level.
"I don’t want any other family to experience what we have so I would strongly urge anyone who still cooks using hot oil in a pan to stop using it immediately. It is astounding how quickly they can go up in flames and how rapidly those flames can spread, with terrible consequences.
"I also cannot stress strongly enough the importance of having working smoke alarms. They initially alerted the children to the fire which gave everyone enough time to safely evacuate the house. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t got smoke detectors fitted to contact Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and book a free Home Fire Risk Check – it could literally save your and your families lives."
Carmel Warren, Prevent Manager for the west of the county, added: "This was a very serious fire which caused extensive damage to the property as well as being an incredibly traumatic experience for members of the family who were inside the house when the incident happened.
"We still have quite a significant number of fires caused by oil overheating in pans and we are working hard to raise awareness of the risks they pose and encourage people to use deep fat fryers instead as they are far safer. I would urge residents to take heed of the Nolan family’s warning and to take precautions to ensure that they do not fall victim to the same tragedy."
To book a Home Fire Risk Check call Freephone 0800 0241 999, text 07528 983101 or visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/bookyour hfrc.asp