Stevenage family escape house fire as neighbours help tackle blaze

PUBLISHED: 06:58 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:25 20 October 2017

Chris and Toyah Verschuren. Picture: Toyah Verschuren

Chris and Toyah Verschuren. Picture: Toyah Verschuren

Archant

A young couple with three small children escaped tragedy after their kitchen caught fire, quickly turning into a blaze.

The Verschuren children: five-year-old Harry, four-year-old Bella and two-year-old Freddie. Picture: Toyah VerschurenThe Verschuren children: five-year-old Harry, four-year-old Bella and two-year-old Freddie. Picture: Toyah Verschuren

Toyah and Chris Verschuren, of Snowdonia Way in Great Ashby, had been putting the finishing touches to their restyled kitchen when the horror unfolded on Sunday.

Chris had been using a strong adhesive to secure splashbacks to the wall when their kitchen suddenly caught fire – bursting into flames right next to their two-year-old son Freddie, and quickly taking hold.

Toyah said: “We think – because Freddie was sat on the counter and we had a dust sheet covering everything – either Freddie or Chris might have touched the ignition on the hob, and the spark must have touched the adhesive and that was it.

“Everything in the kitchen ignited in seconds and it just turned into an inferno.”

The aftermath of the fire. Picture: Toyah VerschurenThe aftermath of the fire. Picture: Toyah Verschuren

Toyah managed to get Freddie and her two other children, four-year-old Bella and five-year-old Harry, out of the house while Chris tried to tackle the blaze.

Toyah said: “Our neighbours heard me screaming and the children crying and they heard the smoke alarms, so they came and helped and got hosepipes on the fire.

“I was screaming at Chris, telling him to get out as all I could see was him getting covered in flames – but he said his adrenaline kicked in and he just wanted to put the fire out before it spread to the rest of the house.

“One of the neighbours called the fire brigade, but we ended up telling them not to come after we had hosed the whole kitchen down.”

The aftermath of the fire. Picture: Toyah VerschurenThe aftermath of the fire. Picture: Toyah Verschuren

Toyah added: “It was just so scary as Freddie had been sat right by the flames when it happened and I had to just grab him and our other children and run, while watching Chris trying to battle the fire and getting covered in flames.

“I don’t know how he wasn’t burnt, but thankfully he’s just lost all the hairs on his arms and is really shaken up.

“Our kitchen is all burnt away, but I’m just so thankful we are all ok.”

Toyah and Chris are both still in shock about what happened, and how quickly the fire took hold. Toyah is suffering from flashbacks and Freddie is highly anxious, afraid of loud or unexpected noises, but they all had a lucky escape and are grateful for the neighbours’ help.

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