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Newspaper launches safety drive after fatal blaze

A regional daily has launched a fire safety campaign in the wake of a devastating blaze which claimed the lives of four children.

The Derby Telegraph has joined forces with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service to start its Fire: Extinguish The Risks drive to raise awareness of fire safety in the home and the importance of working smoke alarms.

It comes after a horrific fire in Hulland Ward in Derbyshire last month in which four young children aged between two and nine-years-old died, with only their mother Rachael Henson managing to escape.

The Telegraph’s campaign includes an offer from two local retailers for 30pc off the price of a smoke alarm, along with an event where firefighters will give demonstrations and advice.

Assistant news editor Cheryl Hague said: “We decided to launch the campaign Fire: Extinguish The Risks after the tragic house fire in Hulland Ward which claimed the lives of four young children.

“It emerged that the blaze was started accidentally by a stray spark from an open fire and there was no evidence of working smoke alarms in the property – which could have provided the family with an early warning of the imminent danger and given them vital minutes to escape.

“We felt the lack of working smoke alarms was becoming a common theme in many fire incidents we were reporting on and we were able to confirm this with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue.

“They told us that of all the house fires they attended – about 50pc of properties didn’t have a working smoke alarm.

“It just seemed there was a real need for people to be aware of the dangers of not having smoke alarms and how a simple device which costs just a few pounds could save lives.

“An accidental house fire could happen to anyone – so everyone should do all they can to protect themselves and their family from the dangers. The deaths of Tommy, Alisha, Appolonia and Rocco shouldn’t be in vain.”

The paper plans to print a series of in-depth articles over the coming weeks about the importance of fire safety, to encourage all its readers to have working smoke alarms in their homes.

And it also aims to recruit 500 people from businesses, groups, clubs or charities to become ‘fire advocates’, who will provide a point of contact for the fire service to help spread safety messages on a regular basis.

The campaign has won the support of Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin, who said: “The Hulland Ward tragedy has affected the whole county and reminded us how dangerous house fires can be.

“I warmly congratulate the Derby Telegraph on this campaign. I feel it is a vital message that clearly needs to be pushed home.”