Sydney mother-of-two Mae Short was sleeping soundly next to her partner Jim inside their North Shore home when she woke to the sound of her 17-month-old daughter coughing.
It was 3am on Friday and the 31-year-old was about to experience every parent’s worst nightmare.
“I woke to her coughing, and when I woke up I could smell the electrical smoke,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“I got up out of bed and just ran to her door. I knew it was coming from her room straight away.”
While racing to Margot’s bedroom, Mae screamed at Jim to wake up.
By the time they opened her door, they couldn’t see a thing.
“The fire had tripped the house so there were no lights, nothing, and the room was thick with smoke,” she said.
“Margot was completely silent, which I think in my head is why my partner ran in instead of me.
“I was just not sure what I was going to find.”
After rescuing their daughter from the smoke, which was fortunately contained in her room, the couple ran outside in a desperate attempt to get air.
They then ventured back inside for their two-year-old son Percy who was in his own bedroom much further down the hallway.
Miraculously, they were all ok
While emergency services were called to their Manly house, a neighbour took the young family in and helped bath a now giggling Margot.
But for Mae and Jim the reality of what they had just escaped was only beginning to set in.
“It really, really hit home when I went downstairs to my neighbours and I could see Margot properly, and she was just like black,” Mae said.
“She was completely covered in soot. It was all over her dummy, in her hair, on her sleep suit. Everything. And then it was like, ‘oh my god, this is not a joke’.
“I couldn’t figure out the severity of it [the fire] but when I saw her, it was just so scary, so scary.”
Overloaded power board sparks fire
Within minutes the fire brigade was on the scene and quickly extinguished the smoulders, while the family was taken to hospital for a check over as a precaution.
"The fire just ended up smouldering and the room was full of smoke because her door was closed and the fire had run out of oxygen," Mae said.
"That's why it wasn't like insane flames.
"When everyone thinks of a house fire, they think of flames, but it was the inhalation smoke that was the most concerning part of the whole thing."
An overloaded power board with a heater plugged in has been blamed for the fire which has sparked Mae to issue a dire warning to other parents.
“Anything that’s a high wattage you can’t plug into a power board and expect to plug in a whole bunch of other appliances, which is what happens in a baby’s room,” she said.
“You have the humidifier, the monitor and a charger for something.
“Now there are no heaters in their [her children’s] rooms. That’s just done and dusted, they just layer up. They are going to be fine being a bit cold.”
Mae is also planning to install fire alarms in every room and from now on will be sleeping with the doors open.
NSW Fire and Rescue warns incorrect usage of power boards can result in fires, endangering lives and causing considerable damage to property.
“They can overheat, they can malfunction, they can catch fire,” Superintendent Adam Dewberry warns.
“People just need to be conscious of the power board they've got and what electrical appliances they are putting into them.
"Don’t overload them, don’t piggyback them, and buy them from a reputable retailer.”
Statistics show that over 350 residential house fires are started by electrical faults each year in NSW.
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