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Man taken to hospital after electric wheelchair blaze

Newbury care home partially evacuated

Jane Meredith

Jane Meredith


01635 886637

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A man was taken to hospital yesterday afternoon (Mon) after being rescued from a fire in an electric wheelchair at a Newbury care home.

Two fire engines from Newbury Fire Station and a third from Whitley Wood, Reading, a total 12 firefighters, were called at 1.45pm to Audrey Needham House, in Victoria Grove, following a report of a person on fire in an electric wheelchair, on the second floor of the care home, at the entrance to his flat.

On arrival, firefighters carried out a 'snatch rescue' , involving dragging the man away from extensive smoke in the room and placing him out of danger at the far side of a fire door, then fully and safely extinguished the blaze using carbon dioxide, before ambulance crews took over.

The wheelchair, which was destroyed in the blaze, was removed outside the building.

Mike Wilson, crew manager of Red Watch at Newbury Fire Station, who was at the scene, said the fire was due to a defective large battery in the wheelchair:

"The man couldn't move, or walk, he was confined to the wheelchair," said Mr Wilson, adding the blaze caused a lot of gas and smoke - cleared using high pressure fans from the building, which was partially evacuated.

"He was a very brave chap, it must have been terrible for him," continued Mr Wilson, adding the care home staff were also brave, as they stayed in the smoky atmosphere with the man to reassure him,  and applied a damp cloth to the his face, until emergency services arrived.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) spokeswoman, Catherine Morrow, said ambulance services were called to the scene at 1.50pm and sent two ambulance crews and two paramedics, who treated one patient at the scene, along with several firefighters, for smoke inhalation.

The man was taken to the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, with no further details of his injuries available from the ambulance service.

Firefighters left the scene after an hour and a half.

Pam Vasir, director of supported housing of landlords, A2Dominion’s Group , released the following statement today (Tues):

 “We can confirm that a resident living at our Audrey Needham House extra care scheme in Newbury was injured when their wheelchair caught fire.

 “Thanks to the prompt actions of our staff member, we were able to extinguish the fire immediately.

 “After putting out the fire, the staff member called the fire brigade and stayed with the resident to ensure they remained calm until help arrived.

 “The fire was thought to be caused by an electrical fault with the wheelchair, which is owned by the resident and is being investigated further.

 “We can confirm that the resident has now been discharged from hospital.”

Afterwards it was revealed a resident of the care home, living in a flat situated opposite the man whose wheelchair caught fire, and who was first on the scene, came to the man's rescue by pouring a couple of buckets of water on the blaze. 

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