Flint man tells of risking life in fire at family home

Published date: 18 December 2013 |
Published by: Owen Evans 
Read more articles by Owen Evans  Email reporter


A BRAVE son twice battled through flames and smoke to try and save his mum from a blazing house.

James Broster, 23, risked his life by searching through the smoke-filled house thinking his mum Debbie, 45, was trapped in the fire at their Flint home.

The Morrisons’ worker, who was hospitalised with smoke inhalation after the blaze, was stopped from returning to the house a third time by a neighbour – moments before the house windows shattered under the pressure of the kitchen inferno.

Fortunately, his mother was not in the property at the time of the blaze, which caused fire damage to the kitchen and smoke damage to the entire house.

Mr Broster said he arrived back at the house not realising it was up in flames.

He said: “I looked up as I was going in the door and I noticed the smoke so I ran in and checked downstairs as quick as I could.

“I came back out and took two big breaths and went back in – I couldn’t see anything I was just feeling my way around everything.

“I could see the flames in the kitchen and they were by the cooker next to the washing machine.”

He spoke of how he desperately searched through his parents’ smoke-filled bedroom as he tried to find his mother.

He said: “I checked my parents’ bedroom for my mum because my dad and sister were at work.

“I was looking everywhere. I was tapping on the bed and checking around the floor to see if she was on the floor and I came back out and as I was going to go back in the third time I got pulled back and it was lucky that I did.

“Ten seconds after that the windows broke.”

Mr Broster said he did not know what would have happened had he gone into the house a third time.

“I realised afterwards how lucky I was because it could have gone off when I was in there,” he said.

“Neighbours were in the front garden when I came out a second time and as the windows broke we got the other neighbours out of their houses and then the fire engines came.

“My parents and sister love Christmas and they are absolutely devastated they won’t be in the house for it.”

He said his first reaction was one of shock after the fire.

“I’m over the shock now but at first I didn’t speak to my mum all day because I was empty.” he said.

“I didn’t know what to do and then I just broke down in tears in front of my friend’s house. We’re staying positive because at least there was nobody in the house.

“When my mum got there she was worried about the cats, but they both got out – one of them stayed alive by hiding under the bed.”

Mrs Broster described how she was in a neighbour’s house close-by when she was alerted to the fire by her son’s screams.

The bank worker, who lives at the house with husband Gary, said: “He was hysterical. He thought I was in the house because the car was parked up and the last thing I said to him was I had a banging migraine and was going for a lie down. It was quite upsetting, he was in a terrible state.”

She added: “I’m very proud.”

Mrs Broster told the Leader her daughter Cassy, 21, was very upset following the fire.

“She was quite supportive at first, but as I was taking her down to work the following morning she burst into tears,” she said.

Mrs Broster said this year’s Christmas presents had been in the living room before the fire, and were now likely to be damaged.

She added her only hope was the family could get together for Christmas dinner, as currently they have had to separate and are staying in different houses.

The house has since been boarded up and the family is unsure what damage the fire has done to the house.

They have been told it could be three to six months before the damage has been repaired.

Since the fire, Mr Broster said the community has rallied around them, providing donations of household supplies.

James added: “We have had people offering us donations for our house and places to stay. Everyone has been great.”

A spokesman for the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called at 2.17pm on Friday.

“It was a kitchen fire caused by the oven.

“There was 20 per cent fire damage to the kitchen and 100 per cent smoke damage to the whole building.

“One hose reel, four breathing apparatus and a thermal imaging camera was used.

“One male was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.”

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