Chain of freak events led to fire ripping through part of pensioner’s Hartlepool home

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A CHAIN of freak events saw part of a pensioner’s home left badly damaged by fire.

Tony Cannell, 79, was making his evening meal at his home in Garside Drive, Hartlepool, when he accidentally set fire to a tea towel with the gas hob.

Quick-thinking Tony threw it on the ground outside and stamped on it before tossing it into his blue recycling box and returning to his cooking.

But just minutes later, retired joiner Tony smelled burning and opened his back kitchen door to find that the tea towel had sparked a fire in the recycling box, which had in turn set fire to nearby wheelie bins then spread onto his wooden conservatory.

Tony tried put the fire out himself by throwing two pans of cold water on the roaring flames, but he said he knew it was a job for the fire brigade so he dialled 999.

Two engines from Stranton Fire Station were there within minutes and used a hose reel to put out the blaze.

Tony told the Mail: “It was a stupid thing to do, carelessness really, but it’s just a habit I have.

“I lay my tea towel on the two front hob rings because I only ever use the back two. I accidentally knocked one of the knobs for a front ring on and the tea towel started smoking.

“I took it out, stamped on it and put it on the blue waste box.

“There were some papers in there and the wind must have got up and started a fire. I threw a couple of pans of water on it but I thought it’s too much for me and I phoned the fire brigade.”

He added: “All it took was a couple of minutes to cause all the damage, it doesn’t take much at all.

“At least me and the dog are alright though, that’s all that matters really.”

A fire brigade spokesman said: “The man put the tea towel on his bins and a gust of wind has then set fire to the bins, which went up ferociously, and then that’s spread onto the conservatory.

“Fortunately no-one was hurt and we have given the home owner some fire safety advice.”

Tony, who has lived in the rented house for 15 years, says he will now rebuild and repair the self-built conservatory himself.