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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Cumbrian mum relives moment young daughter's hair set on fire

The mother of a six-year-old girl who set her own hair on fire has spoken about her terrifying ordeal.

Alison McAlone, 49, said that she keeps having flashbacks reliving the horrifying moment when daughter Gracie came running past her with flames shooting up her back.

Gracie had been playing with a lighter in the kitchen of their Buttermere Avenue home in Woodhouse, Whitehaven, on Monday afternoon when a tea-towel and curtains set alight. Her hair soon caught fire and Gracie frantically tried to put out the flames but had no luck.

The petrified youngster ran through the living room, where her mum was sitting, to get out of the front door. Mrs McAlone leapt to her feet and battled the flames with her hands, finally putting them out.

Mrs McAlone said: “I was sitting in the living room next to the kitchen and I looked round and the curtains were on fire and Gracie was on fire. She just ran past me and I saw flames – I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“There were flames coming up her back and Gracie was hysterical. I just pulled her jumper off and put it out with my bare hands. Gracie was attempting to run out of the house. It all happened in a matter of seconds and frightened the living daylights out of her.”

Mrs McAlone and her other daughter managed to put out the fire on Gracie’s back and get the family outside to safety.“I just hit the flames with my bare hands. I didn’t think of my own hand. I could feel it burning, but I just had to put it out on my daughter’s hair.”

Gracie and her mum were taken by ambulance to the West Cumberland Hospital where they spent five hours being treated.

Mrs McAlone has a large bandage on her burnt and blistered hand and Gracie suffered injuries to both her hands and the back of her neck. Big lumps of Gracie’s singed hair have been falling out since the ordeal and on close inspection, Mrs McAlone said that the flames came within half-an-inch of her scalp.

“She has been very lucky,” said Mrs McAlone. “I keep thinking what if I wasn’t sitting in the living room and was in the front garden or the bath.

“I feel panicky now and keep thinking ‘what if I wasn’t there?’. I have cried all night and couldn’t come back to the house after they let us out, I had to go and sleep at my other daughter’s.”

Mrs McAlone said that it was very out of character for her daughter to be playing with a lighter as she had always taught her about the dangers of fire.

“It is the first time she has ever done anything like this – I have always told her not to play with fire.

“It shows just how easy something like this can happen, I just keep cuddling Gracie and won’t let her out of my sight. She has never played with a lighter before – she always knew the dangers. She’s a nosy girl and has always got to be occupied. I think she’s learned her lesson now though and won’t do it again.”

Mrs McAlone was due to go back to hospital yesterday afternoon and Gracie goes back today.

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