Theresa puts her pets first

PUBLISHED: 15:23 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:52 10 June 2010

A LITTLEHAM woman this week put her life on the line and braved poisonous smoke to rescue her beloved pet dogs after a fire broke out in her kitchen.

A LITTLEHAM woman this week put her life on the line and braved poisonous smoke to rescue her beloved pet dogs after a fire broke out in her kitchen.

Theresa Hawkins, 45, of Nelson Drive, woke to a nightmare on Monday morning when she realised lethal fumes caused by smouldering plastic from a burning laundry basket were filling her home.

Theresa, who was asleep upstairs when a smoke detector alerted her that a fire had broken out, saved the lives of her seven Papilion dogs and kitten before sparing a thought for her own safety.

Running downstairs, animal-lover Theresa grabbed her seven show dogs - two of them puppies - from their cages, ushering them into the garden for safety.

Next she rescued her six-month-old tabby kitten, Stella.

Only when she was sure her pets were safe did Theresa, who had to be treated for shock and smoke inhalation, make her way to safety and call the fire brigade.

Theresa, who is married to Exmouth postman John, 41, said a plastic laundry basket resting on top of the cooker had caught fire when one of their three cats jumped down from the hob.

"When John went to work, the cat was asleep in the basket. We think the cat jumped out and knocked the hob switch. It was stupid to have the basket up there," she said.

"I was woken up by the smoke alarm. I got up quickly, chucked on some clothes and went downstairs. When I opened the middle door, the room was full of smoke. I could smell burning plastic.

"I grabbed the dogs and took them through the conservatory and chucked them into the garden. Then I grabbed the kitten and threw her outside.

"If the smoke alarm hadn't have gone off, the house would have gone up and we wouldn't have been here."

Fire crews and paramedics from Exmouth were called to the Hawkins' home shortly before 8am on Monday.

The blaze was out on the crews' arrival, but Mrs Hawkins had to be treated for the effects of smoke inhalation and was given oxygen by firefighters. She was checked over by paramedics, but did not require any further treatment.

The fire crews also carried out a home safety check and fitted a further smoke detector. Exmouth fire station group commander Mike White said: "This is a positive example of how smoke detectors can save lives. It's imperative to check and clean them on a regular basis."

l Anyone considered 'at risk' from fire is eligible for a home safety visit and a free fitting of a 10-year smoke detector. To request a check, or for more information, call free on 0800 7311822.

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