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Pensioner escapes kitchen blaze; Dishwasher bursts into flames.

A GREAT-grandmother had a lucky escape after her dishwasher burst into flames.

Margaret Neale was having breakfast at her home in Denbigh Avenue, Howdon, North Tyneside, when she heard a loud bang.

The 79-year-old rushed into the kitchen and saw the dishwasher on fire. The room was soon filled with smoke.

Mrs Neale, a retired nurse, threw a wet towel over the appliance and rang 999. She was told to close the doors and leave the property immediately.

Firefighters then arrived at the scene and put out the blaze. The pensioner was given oxygen before being taken to North Tyneside General Hospital with suspected smoke inhalation.

Mrs Neale, who has four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, said: "It was quite a frightening experience.

I was just having breakfast when all of a sudden I heard a loud bang.

When I went to the kitchen, there were flames coming from the front and bottom of the dishwasher. The smoke was dense. I threw a wet towel over it and rang the emergency services who told me to shut the doors and go outside.

"It was when I got outside the shock set in. I was shaking. I live with my daughter, Patricia, but she was at work. My friends and neighbours were very kind and they called my children."

She spent six hours in hospital before being discharged.

After the incident last Wednesday, her dishwasher was destroyed and damage was caused to a washing machine and kitchen unit. The rest of the kitchen and other parts of the house were badly affected by smoke.

Now Mrs Neale wants to alert householders to the potential dangers of electrical fires. She said: "I only used the dishwasher about once a week. But it was quite old and it is possible there was some electrical fault.

"However, I am always careful to switch things off when I go out and would never leave things on when I go to bed at night. I would urge people to be aware of the dangers. If a washing machine was left on at night and it was to catch fire, the whole house could be burnt down."

Her message has been echoed by fire safety chefs.

Peter Iveson, North Tyneside district manager for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Thankfully, Mrs Neale was not seriously injured and her home was not too badly damaged because she did all the right things.

"She did not go out and leave the dishwasher switched on, she called 999 straight away and got out of the house.

"The temptation for a lot of people is to leave appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers on when they leave the house or go to bed at night, but as this incident demonstrates, this can be extremely dangerous.

"There is no doubt that Mrs Neale was lucky and the situation could have been much worse. Thankfully there was a working smoke alarm fitted in the property which activated and would have raised the alarm had the fire spread."

Between April 2011 and March 2012, domestic appliances were responsible for 13% of accidental house fires in Tyne and Wear.

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DANGER Margaret Neale with the dishwasher destroyed by fire
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 24, 2012
Words:540
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