Paul O’Brien has shared in a first-rate Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service podcast how a disposable BBQ caused a devastating fire which left his family homeless for two years. Speaking on the Service’s latest ‘Out of the Ashes: Stories from Lancashire’ podcast, Paul vividly tells the story of how back in June 2021 at 1.00 p.m. in the afternoon he cooked burgers on a BBQ and disposed of it later at 11 p.m. However, by 5 a.m. the next morning their Lytham family home was in flames.
The podcast can be heard at: https://outoftheashesstoriesfromlancashire_lfrs.buzzsprout.com/2205963/13299522
There is also a transcription retelling Paul’s story.
In the transcript Paul tells of the day the blaze began:
‘It was when England were in the World Cup and we were playing Russia and it was midday so some friends of mine come round for a barbecue. We had a little disposable barbecue and during halftime of the football game, about one o’clock, we put some burgers on the barbecue. Having finished the burgers, we watched the football and the barbecue was out for about one thirty in the afternoon. After our friends went home, the kids come back from playing, we played in the garden and then about eleven o’clock at night, we packed away all the garden, put the rubbish in the bins. I picked up the disposal barbecue, which had been out since two o’clock, so like eight hours ago. Just picked up my hands, it was freezing cold and put it in the bin like we’ve done hundreds of times before. Packed up the garden, went in, watched a bit of TV to about twelve, went to bed and that was a standard, normal day.
We went to bed about midnight and then at five in the morning we just heard bang on the front door. I was like, ‘what the hell was that?’ So then we sat up and as my girlfriend opened her eyes, she started screaming and I was like, ‘what’s going on?’ And the whole house was orange, looking out of our bedroom to see the two kids bedrooms and it was just bright orange and it was, what is going on? And you could hear this crackling noise, which was just wood cracking.
So we woke up and we were just screaming. So she got up and said, there’s a fire. So jumped up, she ran in and got the youngest, a two year old, went and grabbed him. I went into the eight year old’s bedroom, grabbed him and it was warm, the noise was so loud a crackling, and the colour was just bright orange. So what happened was the conservatory at the back was on fire and the fire was going past the bedroom windows, up into the eaves of the roof and into the roof. So literally, the fire wasn’t in that. There’s no smoke alarms going off because the fire was outside of the house and in the roof.’
Paul says incident caused more than £100,000 worth of damage and resulted in the family being place in temporary housing for two years. Following the blaze, Paul tells how the family stayed at his partner’s parents’ house for two weeks initially, and then lived in a house in St Anne’s. They were told we’d be there for about nine months to a year and unfortunately they had some issues with the builders, before they had new builders start. Paul says, ‘They’ve been amazing. So, in total, it’s been two years since the fire until we moved back home.’
Paul adds, ‘We’ve obviously not had a barbecue since, but if we were to have a disposable barbecue, or friends have disposable barbecues, you would say, put it in a bucket of water and just leave it. Leave it for a day.’
Paul O’Brien is now an on-call firefighter at Lytham station.