Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

House fire as dog turns on cooker

Damgage to kitchen
The damage in the family's kitchen after Alfie managed to knock the cooker on at night, setting fire to a deep fat fryer

A family had to escape their blazing home during the night after their dog managed to knock their cooker on and set their kitchen on fire.

Accidental arsonist Alfie - now dubbed the "Alfonist" by the family - turned on a griddle attachment, which had a deep fat fryer on top.

Paul Gregson, his wife and two sons were alerted by the smoke alarm, but managed to get out safely with Alfie.

The house in Llanfairfechan, Conwy, suffered thousands of pounds of damage.

It is all too easy for you, a pet or child to brush past switches on the appliance and turn them on
John Morgan, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Mr Gregson said Alfie, a flat-coated retriever who sleeps in the kitchen, was a known thief, and the family was careful as he had knocked cooker knobs before, but the one in question was usually in the off position.

In what they called a "coincidence of events" this time, however, he managed to turn on the little-used attachment.

"We wouldn't have heard him bark because we sleep at the opposite end of the house, and the first we knew was the fire alarm going off at 12.40," said Mr Gregson.

"I didn't realise what it was as first because we'd never heard it before, there was this feeling of disorientation."

As soon as the family got downstairs, however, they could see the blaze at the far end of the kitchen and managed to "pull everybody out", including Alfie.

Alfie the dog
Accidental arsonist: Alfie is now dubbed the Alfonist by the family

The fire and heat badly damaged the kitchen, including melting the central heating controls, and even the door seal on the fridge.

Mr Gregson said the first reaction was that they were "just glad to be alive".

But the problem of living in a house without a kitchen with two children, meant that the family would probably have to move out to temporary accommodation.

"We first thought that it was just the kitchen, but we've now realised that the smoke damage is throughout the house," he added.

The family also wanted to thank the fire service for their quick response.

"I can't give them enough praise, they were here within five minutes of my wife calling them," said Mr Gregson.

"Then they came back later to fit battery smoke detectors, because we had no electricity," he added.

John Morgan, of the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said the family had a chance to escape because of the fitted smoke alarms.

"The family's pet dog appears to have started the fire by turning on the griddle in the middle of the night," he added.

"This is another reason why all electrical items not designed to be left on should be switched off at the mains when not in use or overnight.

"It is all too easy for you, a pet or child to brush past switches on the appliance and turn them on," he added.

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