Havant pensioner whose freezer caught fire says: 'I wasn't worried - I've dealt with blazes on oil tankers'
A FREEZER caught fire in the flat belonging to a retired oil tanker captain living in Havant this morning.
Fire station crews were called at 3.44am after the faulty appliance caused a kitchen blaze in a flat at Compton Court in Chidham Close, Havant.
Paul Miller, 81, thought his smoke alarm had broken - but went to his kitchen to discover his freezer in flames.
He said: ‘I heard the alarm and I thought it was broken because I have had it for so long - I’ve had it for at least 15 years.
‘I went to the kitchen and there was a lot of fire and billowing black smoke.’
But the former oil tanker captain, who worked for Saudi Aramco for more than 15 years, wasn’t fazed by the sight.
He said: ‘I didn’t worry. I have dealt with ship fires before on tankers full of oil.
‘So I wasn’t worried about this fire.’
Paul’s neighbour, Tony Harding, who lives in the flat above was woken by the alarm.
He said: ‘I helped him into my flat and called the fire brigade, who were here within five minutes.
‘The smoke afterwards was terrible - I took down a couple of fans to blow it all out.’
A British Red Cross team attended to Paul, who had a stroke two years ago, at the scene.
Paul said: ‘The staff said I did not need to go to the hospital and I did a breathing test.’
The contents of the flat is covered by insurance, but Paul’s son, Charles, said it was ‘pretty terrible’ that the insurers won’t cover the cost to dispose of the charred freezer.
The 28-year-old said: ‘That’s going to be a headache. I think they should cover the cost.
‘They haven’t even sent an assessor out - the photos don’t do justice to the damage.’
Ben Holt, crew manager at Havant Fire Station, said: ‘It was quite a slow, smouldering fire that had filled the house with smoke.
‘Luckily his smoke alarm went off, that woke him up and his neighbours came to his assistance and came to get him out.
‘It does happen occasionally that kitchen appliances can catch fire like that, but luckily this gentleman had a smoke alarm fitted. Without that he would have been in a lot more trouble.’
The blaze was put out using water from the kitchen sink.
Mr Holt said: ‘Without the smoke alarm he would not have known about the fire and neither would his neighbours – the smoke alarm might have saved his life in this case.
‘The message here is that everyone should make sure they check their alarms and, if they don’t have them, make sure they get them fitted.’
Crews from Havant and Cosham left the scene at about 5am.