Girl, 17, praised for saving family from fire at Gosport home

Freja Clarke (17) in the room with the light that caused the fire.''Picture: Sarah Standing (141021-9473) PPP-140104-222250001
Freja Clarke (17) in the room with the light that caused the fire.''Picture: Sarah Standing (141021-9473) PPP-140104-222250001

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A TEENAGER has been hailed for raising the alarm when she discovered a blaze had broken out at her new family home.

Freja Clarke, 17, woke her grandparents and cousin up and ensured they made it to safety away from the house in Carisbrooke Road, Gosport. The quick-thinking teenager woke her relatives after going downstairs to get her mobile phone and discovering the fire.

She immediately shouted up to her grandparents and cousin who were asleep upstairs in their home – which they had moved into just four days before the fire.

Freja said: ‘My phone was downstairs so I went down to get it. I could smell burning and didn’t think much of it.

‘I opened the kitchen door and it was hot and I was hit by smoke.

‘I went round through to the lounge into the conservatory and saw the flames, so I took Sonic the guinea-pig out into the back garden and went back upstairs to wake the family.’

Freja shouted to her grandparents Shirley, 79, and Charles Harris, 86, who were asleep in their bedroom on the second floor, and to her cousin Lisa Higgs, 28, who was asleep upstairs in the attic room.

Lisa called 999 as all four rushed downstairs and out of the house as it filled with thick black smoke at 10.40pm on Monday.

The fire started in a room full of cardboard boxes still not unpacked from the family’s recent move – some were destroyed and others were damaged by water as firefighters tackled the fire.

The blaze was caused by an electrical fault in the house – a lamp overheated, even though it was switched off, and set the boxes alight

Freja’s family have praised the Fareham College uniformed services student for detecting the fire, saying it could have been much worse.

They feared there could have been an explosion if the fire reached oxygen tanks used by Mr Harris for lung condition emphysema.

Lisa said: ‘I thought I was having a dream – I could hear someone shouting “fire, fire”. I ran downstairs and I could immediately see thick black smoke.

‘I came down to the kitchen area and could see the flames.

‘Freja was trying to access the room to understand what was going on. I literally couldn’t see a thing. I tried to enter from the conservatory entrance but the handles were so hot so I couldn’t get in. If Freja hadn’t raised the alarm then I don’t think I’d be here talking today.’

Lisa’s partner Fiona McLaughlin, 26, who was out at work when she was called and told of the fire, added: ‘If Freja hadn’t still been awake it would have been a different story.’

Grandmother Shirley praised Freja and said: ‘What could’ve happened if Freja hadn’t got up could’ve been bad. The amount of smoke was terrible.’

Charles was checked over at a neighbour’s house by the fire service and was fine. No-one was injured and the family are thankful for the help from their new neighbours.

Two fire engines from Gosport fire station were sent and spent around an hour-and-a-half tackling the fire.

Watch manager Steve Bint, of white watch, praised Freja’s actions.

He said: ‘She did exactly the right thing.’