Leeds blaze gran’s smoke alarms warning

Yvonne Clemmens, 77, is urging others to check their smoke alarms after hers, fitted by Rebecca Wilson, of West Yorkshire Fire Service, saved her life. Below, damage to Yvonne's home.
Yvonne Clemmens, 77, is urging others to check their smoke alarms after hers, fitted by Rebecca Wilson, of West Yorkshire Fire Service, saved her life. Below, damage to Yvonne's home.
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Fire survivor Yvonne Clemmens got the ultimate wake-up call when a blaze ripped through her Leeds home.

The 77-year-old grandmother was awoken by the fire alarms that she had had fitted just a few months earlier. And now, as she recovers from last month’s ordeal, she is encouraging Leeds families to do the same.

Mrs Clemmens, from Bramley, spent two weeks in hospital with smoke inhalation after she was pulled unconscious from her bedroom by firefighters.

Depressed due to her beloved daughter’s illness with cancer, she absent-mindedly flicked her cigarette butt into the bin and went to sleep upstairs.

She was awoken by her fire alarms and by her neighbour knocking loudly on the door after he too heard the alarms wailing.

The flames virtually destroyed Mrs Clemmens’ home in Snowden Walk, where she has lived for more than 40 years.

Speaking at Stanningley fire station, where she thanked members of the Red Watch crew for saving her life, she said: “My message to others about fire alarms is get them quick, they don’t cost anything. Without them I would not be here today.

“My house was gutted, my kitchen melted, my chair and wall unit and table were destroyed and there was smoke damage everywhere,” she added.

“They have pulled people out dead before. I just want to thank the firefighters very much, I am the luckiest woman on earth.”

Mrs Clemmens said her fire experience was just the “wake-up call” she had needed and her life has changed for the better in the weeks since the incident.

Rebecca Wilson, community risk reduction adviser for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, who fitted Mrs Clemmens’ smoke alarms, said: “Some people still refuse because they don’t think they need them.

“But don’t think it won’t happen to you. Have your smoke alarms fitted and test them weekly.”

Ring your local fire station to book a free smoke alarms fitting. It takes less than half an hour.

The car which caught fire. Photo: West Yorkshire Police

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