10:40am Saturday 31st March 2012
By Jennifer Bell
MOTHER-OF-TWO Diane Hill was critically ill in hospital last night after setting herself on fire as she poured petrol into a glass jug in her kitchen.
Her gas cooker was alight at the time and the petrol fumes ignited.
Mrs Hill, 46, of Moorgate, Acomb, dropped the jug and became “engulfed in flames”, according to Lee Smith, station manager at Acomb fire station.
Mrs Hill’s two daughters, Lauren, 23, and Grace, 18, were in the garden of the property when the incident occurred at 6pm on Thursday. Her husband, Mark, was at work. He was at her bedside last night.
Mrs Hill suffered 40 per cent burns in the incident and was transferred immediately to Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, with “serious and significant burns”.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said Mrs Hill’s daughter had asked her for petrol because she had run out.
A spokeswoman for Pinderfields confirmed she was “critical but stable” in the specialist burns unit.
It is unclear if the incident was related to people panic-buying petrol. But it came only days after Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude advised motorists to store up extra fuel in jerry cans.
Labour MP Karl Turner, who represents Hull East, and Labour peer Toby Harris, former chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, have called for Mr Maude to resign.
Mrs Hill’s distressed neighbour, Margot Johnston, told The Press that she thought both Mrs Hill’s daughters had been in their garden enjoying a barbecue in the spring sunshine when she smelled strong smoke. She said she then spotted a woman running into the garden, on fire. “I saw flames coming from someone and someone running into the garden.
“I feel so awful because I felt so impotent,” she said.
“What could I do?” she said.
“I just shouted at them to ask if they had phoned an ambulance. I know it sounded silly but sometimes when people are in shock, they can be forgetful.”
Mrs Johnston said the family, who she described as “very private”, had lived at the property for two years and moved there from Stamford Bridge. They owned four cars between them.
Mrs Johnston said: “I’m in absolute shock. I understand, luckily, the fire didn’t affect her face, but she suffered severe burns to her body. I cannot believe this has happened. I couldn’t sleep last night. I didn’t see anything this bad during the war. I’m 86 and I really feel my age today, I’m just stunned. Those poor daughters of hers.”
Lee Smith said paramedics and firefighters were at the scene within three minutes.
He said: “It was teatime, and they were cooking their evening meal. The lady was decanting petrol from a jerry container into a glass jug.”
He said the fumes from the petrol were ignited by the gas cooker resulting in Mrs Hill dropping the jug and becoming “engulfed in flames”.
He said it led to significant burns on her upper body, mainly her back and arms.
Mr Smith said: “I don’t fully understand why she was decanting the petrol.”
Peter Hudson, a spokesman for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Her daughter asked her mum for petrol because she had run out.
“She did not think about the fact the gas cooker was on. The petrol then went up and she got burned. Thankfully, we were there very quickly.”
A spokesperson for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said a rapid response vehicle was sent to the scene and arrived within three minutes, followed by two ambulances.
Mrs Hill was taken to the specialist burns centre at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.
Mr Hudson warned people to take extreme care when handling and storing petrol. He said “Be aware of the risks associated with incorrect use and storage of fuel.
“In domestic situations, fuel containers must not be stored in living accommodation such as kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms or under staircases.
“Any storage place should be well away from living areas and be secured to protect against the possibility of vandalism or arson. Never bring petrol inside your home.
“If you do smell petrol fumes in a garage or outbuilding, ventilate the area and make sure nobody smokes or turns electrical switches on or off.
“The slightest spark could cause an explosion.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group