Mother-of-five relives Christmas tree fire horror

A Dereham family will be spending Christmas in temporary accommodation after a blaze in their home

A Dereham family will be spending Christmas in temporary accommodation after a blaze in their home - Credit: Rebecca Rose

After enduring Covid restrictions and being forced to sell her home to keep her business afloat, Rebecca Rose didn't think her year could get much worse.

The Christmas tree that set on fire in Rebecca Rose's flat in Dereham

The Christmas tree that set on fire in Rebecca Rose's flat in Dereham - Credit: Rebecca Rose

But little did she know that this year had one more nasty surprise in store for her – one which will force Mrs Rose, her husband and their five children to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation.

At around 8am on Monday, December 14, as her children were getting ready for school, they alerted her to the fact their Christmas tree was ablaze in the living room of their newly-refurbished flat on Shipdham Road in Dereham.

Coco the dog, who but through the Christmas tree lights

Coco the dog, who but through the Christmas tree lights - Credit: Rebecca Rose

The blaze, which was caused after pet dog Coco chewed through the wire of lights on the Christmas tree, caused a large amount of smoke damage and rendered their home uninhabitable.

Now, the 30-year-old owner of Hair Now, Beauty Now in Dereham is urging others to "think twice" before putting up Christmas decorations and leaving festive lights unattended.

Rebecca Rose, the 30-year-old owner of Hair Now, Beauty Now in Dereham is urging others to "think twice" before putting up...

Rebecca Rose, the 30-year-old owner of Hair Now, Beauty Now in Dereham is urging others to "think twice" before putting up Christmas decorations and leaving festive lights unattended. - Credit: Rebecca Rose

"I had just got the kids ready for school and went into the kitchen to write a letter for my 10-year-old's PE teacher.

"My two youngest kids, aged three and five, ran into the kitchen and I saw the look on their faces and didn't think twice, I just picked up the tree and threw it out the window."

Rocco and Isaac who alerted MRs Rose to the blaze

Rocco and Isaac who alerted Mrs Rose to the blaze - Credit: Rebecca Rose

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, who were on the scene of the fire just four minutes after being called, told the mother-of-five the tree was only inside the flat for 30 seconds when it caused serious smoke damage to the living room and two beauty rooms in the salon below.

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All five children, Rocco, three, Isaac, five, Lily-Rose, 10, and Bradley, 13, along with Mrs Rose and pet dog Coco made it out of the flat with no injuries.

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze in the flat above Hair Now, Beauty Now in Dereham

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze in the flat above Hair Now, Beauty Now in Dereham - Credit: Rebecca Rose

Mrs Rose said: "I have never had puppies before, I have only ever rescued older dogs and didn't think about the damage Coco could have done.

"We had only just renovated the flat and the salon over the last two lockdowns, but so much more damage could have been done.

"I'm so lucky the kids told me within seconds and that I wasn't downstairs or in the shower because it could have been so much worse."

Damage left from the tree that set on fire

Damage left from the tree that set on fire - Credit: Rebecca Rose

The family of seven are now staying in temporary accommodation in Yaxham Waters Holiday Park while their home is professionally cleaned and repaired, meaning the family will not be spending Christmas in their own home.

Mrs Rose said she "couldn't believe" how quickly the tree went up in flames.

 Coco the dog, who started a fire at a Dereham flat by chewing through the lights on a Christmas tree.

Coco the dog, who started a fire at a Dereham flat by chewing through the lights on a Christmas tree. - Credit: Norfolk Fire and Rescue / Norfolk County Council

"The amount of damage caused in just 30 seconds was insane," said Mrs Rose. "There is black smoke and ash all over the ceiling and walls, melted plastic all over the new laminate floor, decorations destroyed and the curtains were also melted.

"At the end of the day decorations and furniture can be replaced, but lives can't. I want to encourage other people to think twice before leaving decorations unattended or even putting them up in the future."

 Dereham fire crew members with coco the dog, who started a fire at a Dereham flat by chewing through the lights on a...

Dereham fire crew members with coco the dog, who started a fire at a Dereham flat by chewing through the lights on a Christmas tree. - Credit: Norfolk Fire and Rescue / Norfolk County Council

"I'm just so thankful that my children are healthy, business is okay and we will be able to enjoy Christmas."

The 30-year-old thanked the emergency services and the public for their kindness during the incident.

She said: "I can't thank the people who stepped in to help me on that day enough, one of the salon staff, Tracey, was on the school run when it happened and she came to make sure the salon was okay, make sure we were fine and was a real trooper.

"It's restored my faith in knowing there are good people out there, so many people came to ask if we were okay and offered to take the kids to school, I can't thank them enough."

Stuart Ruff, chief fire officer, said the fires highlighted the dangers of leaving decorations unattended or unprotected, and urged people to take extra care to keep their families safe over Christmas.

Mr Ruff said: "This house fire shows the importance of having correctly installed, working fire alarms. It takes one minute to check the alarms in your house each week, but could be something that saves lives in an emergency.

"Our advice is to keep real Christmas trees well watered, not to overload plug sockets, and consider whether lights or trees are vulnerable to pets or young children.”


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