A hero dad saved his family after finding the house on fire when he got back from an early morning dog walk.
Graeme Patton dashed past the flames in the kitchen and up the stairs after the smoke alarm had failed to wake up his wife Debbie and stepson Calum.
He told the Mirror that he shouted: “Get out of the house, the house is on fire!”
They then made their way through the smoke-filled property and past the growing flames out of the back door.
The fire service said the inferno on Friday morning (October 28) was caused by a faulty toaster.
The family watched from the street as the blaze gutted their home in Hartlepool, County Durham, before firefighters arrived.
Graeme said he is still haunted by the thought that if the fire had happened just minutes earlier or if he’d been held up on the walk, his wife and stepson may not have been so lucky.
“That’s what we keep thinking, if it had been half an hour earlier I would have still been in bed, or if I’d been caught talking to someone outside with the dog or anything it would have been horrendous,” he explained.
“The next part of the house is the stairs, so if it had got through to there, there wouldn’t have been any escape.”
Graeme said he always gets up at 6am for work and takes dog Ruby for a quick walk around the block.
Recalling Friday’s incident, he continued: “When I came back in, I could see smoke round the back of the house, so I ran round to where the kitchen is and half the kitchen was on fire.
“My wife and my stepson were in bed. I ran into the kitchen. I didn’t know what I thought, so I just ran in, and as I ran in all the units on the right-hand side of the kitchen were on fire.”
He said the smoke alarm was going off, but not very loudly and was not a rapid sound, so had failed to wake anyone up.
“It was more like when the batteries have gone,” he said.
“I thought ‘I’m going to have to get everyone out of the house’.”
Graeme continued: “I just ran upstairs and started shouting: ‘Get out of the house, the house is on fire!’
“Then they followed me out. I got the dog out and then within five minutes the fire brigade had arrived.
“All the kitchen, all the dining room, that was an extension of the kitchen, has gone.
“There was no door through to the rest of the house so it’s just basically smoke’s gone right through the rest of the house and destroyed everything.”
They have since been staying at Graeme’s stepdaughter Jodie Bratt’s home.
Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “We were called to a house fire on 28/10/2022 at 06.25 on Grange Road in Hartlepool.
“Three fire engines in attendance from Hartlepool and Billingham.
“House well alight in kitchen caused by radiated heat from a toaster.
“Six Breathing Apparatus, two Hose Real and Positive Pressure Ventilation used.
“85 per cent damage to kitchen and remainder of property heavily smoke damaged. No casualties. We left the scene at 08.39.”