Authorities warn of disturbing trend in first two weeks of winter

Although winter has only just begun NSW firies have issued a dire warning to homeowners.

“In the first two weeks of winter, we were up to about 84 house fires,” Superintendent Adam Dewberry from Fire and Rescue NSW told Yahoo News Australia.

“We’re trending too high.”

In just 14 days, four people have lost their lives to blazes inside the home, including an elderly couple in Glendenning in Sydney’s west.

Firefighters managed to pull the 74-year-old woman out of the flames but she was unable to be resuscitated.

While fire became too ferocious for crews to go back in for her 77-year-old husband who uses a wheelchair.

“In the period of winter, we go to about 1,000 calls for home fires,” Supt Dewberry said.

“[But] we think this can come down just by some good practices.”

Most house fires during winter occur in the kitchen, according to Fire and Rescue NSW. Source: Getty
Most house fires during winter occur in the kitchen, according to Fire and Rescue NSW. Source: Getty

He’s urging homeowners to never leave cooking unattended, saying a lot of house fires in winter begin in the kitchen.

“People are at home [more], it’s been a particularly cold snap with the polar blast, [and] people change their cooking behaviours in winter,” he said.

“They have more of those hot, homely type meals on the stove as opposed to outdoor barbecues or salads.

“Just check everything, don't leave anything to chance, switch heaters off overnight, and if you close your bedroom door and have a heater, make sure you have a smoke alarm in that room.”

Mae Short's family (left) and fire damage to the bedroom wall and floor (right)
A 17-month-old girl is lucky to be alive after a heater caused an overloaded power board to catch fire. Source: Mae Short

Mae Short knows all too well the dangers of leaving a heater unattended.

Her 17-month-old daughter is lucky to be alive after an overloaded power board sparked a blaze in the family’s Manly home on Friday.

“I woke to her coughing, and when I woke up I could smell the electrical smoke,” the mother-of-two told Yahoo News Australia. Fortunately, the family made it out in time.

But others haven’t been so lucky.

The inside of a burnt out tumble-dryer (left) and Elijah with bandages in hospital (right)
Elijah Whitton is receiving treatment for burns to 42 per cent of his body after a tumble-dryer exploded in Victoria. Source: Miranda Whitton

A toddler in Victoria was left fighting for life after a tumble dryer malfunctioned inside a Mildura home in May, sparking a blaze.

By the time his mother rescued him, two-year-old Elijah Whitton had suffered severe burns to almost half of his body.

Supt Dewberry says it’s a stark reminder to have smoke alarms.

“There is a concern that a high number of properties don't have smoke alarms that are adequate to do the job,” he said

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