York family tell of dramatic escape from Askham Lane house fire

Kieran, Lynsey, Christopher and Michael Ward, who escaped from today's house fire in York.

Kieran, Lynsey, Christopher and Michael Ward, who escaped from today's house fire in York.

Updated in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by

A YORK family have told of their dramatic escape from their burning home as flames raged around them in the dead of night.

Michael and Lynsey Ward and their sons Kieran, 14, and Christopher, 12, fled their home on Askham Lane in the early hours of yesterday, as a blaze took hold around them.

Michael, 45, woke up at around 1am when smoke filled his bedroom and smoke alarms started sounding.

Within minutes he woke his wife and children and managed to get the family into the street outside - where they watched in horror as windows exploded and the flames shot out.

The whole family had to be treated for smoke inhalation at York Hospital but escaped unharmed, along with their dog Max.

“We were so scared, it was terrifying. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Michael said. “The smoke was unbelievably thick, and the smell was horrible.”

When builder Michael and railway worker Lynsey went to bed at around 11.40pm there was nothing untoward in the house.

“I checked the spare bedroom between our room and Kieran’s, and I checked both my sons and everything was fine,” Michael said.

A little over an hour later he woke coughing as the smoke crept into the room, woke Lynsey, and ran to rescue Kieran and Christopher.

“I went on to the landing and saw flames licking up the walls in the spare bedroom. The whole room was engulfed. I couldn’t see and it burnt my face and eyebrows.

“The boys were both asleep, but their bedrooms were full of smoke. They were stunned at me charging in there like raging bull.”

Meanwhile, Lynsey found window keys in a bedside cabinet, in case the fire blocked their escape route downstairs.

She said: “It was awful - really really scary. I went out on to the landing, then back into the bedroom. Then the room filled with smoke from floor to ceiling in about five seconds. It was like somebody had pulled a blind.

“I heard Michael shouting at me to go downstairs. We couldn’t see each other because of the smoke. It was so hot my hair burnt.”

Downstairs, she found Michael and the two boys in the kitchen and saw Kieran had rescued dog Max. Minutes later they were in the street looking back as their home went up in flames with neighbours looking after them.

“It’s awful to stand and watch as your own house burns while you are powerless. I was very frightened,” Lynsey said.

Now the family are recovering with relatives and looking back on their lucky escape.

“The house is wrecked, but we are alive and that’s the main thing,” Lynsey added.

“You can replace stuff, but you can’t replace a life. We’ve got good neighbours, and they have been brilliant.”

They thanked the firefighters who rushed to their home, and the neighbours and family who rallied around and even boarded up the house and organised a skip to take away ruined furniture.

Michael said: “I’ve been back to the house and it is ruined. It makes me sick to the teeth to see it.”

Lynsey said they are relieved their smoke alarms woke them in time, and are urging other families to make sure they have alarms fitted and know how to get out of their house in an emergency.

They are now waiting for a report from the fire brigade, but believe the fire may have been started by a faulty electrical socket in the spare bedroom.

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