West Yorkshire: Big rise in 999 incidents over holiday period

Firefighters have issued a safety warning to householders after revealing that they dealt with more than 1,300 incidents over the Christmas holiday period - a massive 30 per cent increase on the figure for the previous year.

Statistics released by the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service show that 422 turnouts over the 15-day festive period were to fires involving people or property and special service calls such as road accidents.

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Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Beckley said: "There was a huge spike in activity between last Thursday and Monday but, more significantly, many of the jobs we handled were extremely serious, including a tragic house fire in Dewsbury."

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Dewsbury man Arthur Newton, known as Rocket Ronnie, died after a fire ripped through his home in Chidswell Gardens, Shaw Cross, on Christmas Day.

It is thought the 69-year-old had left a stove on when he went to bed.

Neighbours tried to break down the door to his flat in a bid to rescue him.

And firefighters rescued a Leeds family when a blaze devastated their pub on Boxing Day.

Alan Butcher, 54, landlord of the Hare and Hounds in Commercial Street, Rothwell, his partner Deb McConnell, 49, her 15-year-old son William and the family dog were trapped in their first-floor flat after being woken by a smoke alarm.

Fire crews from Rothwell, Hunslet and Leeds led the family to safety, carrying Miss McConnell down a ladder.

Mr Beckley said flooding in the area became a problem, with the brigade handling 60 calls on December 22 and 30 on Christmas Day.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Craig McIntosh added: "With the county still struggling to escape from one of the coldest snaps since 1890, I appeal to everyone to make a New Year's resolution to take that extra bit of care so that we can all enjoy a safer 2011.

"It's only natural at this time of year that we spend more time indoors to try and stay as warm as possible but portable heaters, electric blankets and the like bring extra hazards.

"People should always follow manufacturers' instructions when using electrical appliances; prepare a simple escape plan in case of fire and make sure smoke alarms are fitted and working."