Dad of four's warning after he loses everything in devastating house fire

A father of four, who lost everything when a fire caused by a faulty tumble dryer destroyed his home, has sent out a warning to other families to be on their guard so the same thing does not happen to them.

Thursday, 8th February 2018, 10:23 am
Updated Thursday, 8th February 2018, 10:30 am
Carl and Manjit Priestley, who lose everything when a faulty tumble dryer caused a fire at their home, with their children, Gillian (13) Libby (right) Lewis (four) and three-year-old Darcy.

Carl Priestley, his wife Manjit and their four children were left with nothing but the clothes they were standing in when the blaze ripped through their home in Kingsbury Place, Burnley, just two weeks before Christmas.

The fire broke out in the afternoon on Tuesday, December 5th, when the family were out and Carl fears if it had happened at night when they were all in bed asleep they could have died.

Carl said: "We lost everything, all our clothes, belongings, toys, furniture and things like photographs that can't be replaced.

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The aftermath of the fire at the Priestley family's home in Kingsbury Place, Burnley.

"Every room in the house was gutted by the fire caused by a faulty tumble dryer.

"We had used it in the morning but it was switched off when we left the house to go out for lunch.

"We had no idea there was anything wrong with it."

The fire broke out at the house, which is owned by Calico Housing Association, just before 1pm and and two fire engines and crews from Burnley and Nelson raced to the scene and spent around six hours putting out the flames.

The aftermath of the fire at the Priestley family's home in Kingsbury Place, Burnley.

The family's pet cat and around £1,000 worth of tropical fish also perished in the flames, leaving children, Gillian (13) eight-year-old Libby, Lewis (four) and Darcy, who is three, inconsolable.

Carl, who is a full time carer for Manjt, who is registered disabled as she suffers from fibromyalgia, said:"All we could do was stand and watch.

"It was devastating to see everything destroyed in front of our eyes."

When Lancashire Fire and Rescue confirmed the blaze had been started by a faulty tumble dryer, Carl discovered the Hotpoint machine was on recall after he checked the serial number.

Around four million Hotpoint tumble dryers are believed to have been affected by a fault which can cause fires.

Several different models were affected by the fault leading to a nationwide safety alert being issued.

But Carl said he was completely unaware of this, adding: "We only bought it a year ago and had no idea there could be anything wrong with it.

"We did not see any warnings and I struggle to read as I am dyslexic."

Although insured, the family only received £5,000 which was used to buy replacement clothes for the whole family and also toys and gifts to save Christmas for the children.

In a cruel twist of fate, two bikes that Carl had bought for the children as Christmas presents, were then stolen from the shed of a neighbour's garden who had agreed to keep them there for him.

Calico have re-housed the family in temporary accommodation in the Brunshaw area of Burnley.

Carl said: "The children don't want to go back to the old house after seeing what happened to it.

"They are terrified."

Helen Swinson, Calico’s Assistant Director of Assets and Communities, said the fire was still being investigated by the insurers and, as a result, no decision had been made about the property.

She said: "We have not told this family that they have to move back to this address.

“The investigation could take months, and we have been working with the family to rehouse them in suitable temporary accommodation.

"We will support them, if necessary, to find alternative accommodation.”

Lancashire Fire and Rescue offer safety advice on electrical home appliances and guidance on registering them.

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