A NEIGHBOUR has told how helpless she felt as he heard the screams of a woman trapped in a house fire who is now fighting for her life.
Dawn Edwards was next door to the scene of the fire in Willow Grove, Elton, when her daughters smelled smoke just before midday on Monday.
Then began an awful few minutes of terror as she made sure her own children were safe before attempting to help Patricia Marfell who is on a life-support machine in the burns unit at Whiston Hospital, St Helens.
Mrs Edwards, who was with her daughters Stephanie, 19, Stacey, 16, and Stacey’s child Chelsea, 19 months, said: “My eldest daughter went up stairs and looked out of the window and saw the smoke. She got us all out and called the fire brigade. As she was ringing them my other daughter ran up the road with the baby to my mum’s.
“I ran next door and the glass in the side window exploded. I went round to the front and that exploded. There was a young lad from up the road and he had gone to the front door and was shouting. They couldn’t get up the stairs because it was completely engulfed. I was saying “Don’t go in!”.
“After a few minutes of shouting her name the young lad said he saw her face in the bedroom window. I didn’t but I heard her screaming for help.”
Mrs Edwards rang the fire service again and told staff her neighbour was trapped and to hurry. The neighbour, Stuart Smith, ran to fetch ladders but with flames and smoke issuing from the front door and windows it was impossible to attempt a rescue.
Worryingly, everything went silent before fire crews arrived.
“She stopped screaming before the fire brigade got here,” said Mrs Edwards, who explained the absolute feeling of helplessness.
Fire crews arrived and gained access with a ladder but took Mrs Marfell out using the stairs and were in the process of rescuing her when her frantic husband David Tierney arrived with daughter Tiffany, 18, but were stopped from approaching the house.
Mrs Edwards said she and her daughters had been left traumatised by what happened and their thoughts are with their neighbour.
At the moment the Edwards’ home is uninhabitable so most of the family is living at her mum’s house nearby although her husband Neil, who was at work when the fire broke out, has insisted on staying at the house for security reasons. It could be up to six months before they can return to their home for good.
Mrs Marfell was initially taken by ambulance to the Countess of Chester Hospital but on Tuesday evening was transferred to the specialist burns unit at Whiston Hospital, St Helens.
Mrs Marfell’s eldest daughter Natalie, 25, has driven down from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with partner Chris to support her family.
Chris said Mrs Marfell had been sedated and was unconscious and in a serious condition but stable.
He said she had suffered less than 15% burns to her arms and back but most serious was the effects of breathing in smoke which had damaged her lungs. However, the level of oxygen she is receiving has been reduced which was a positive sign. “We are waiting and hoping Tricia is OK,” he said.
Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service says the investigation is ongoing although Chris has been told investigators are “99.9% certain” the cause is a faulty electrical heater. He believes just the light – to simulate a fire effect – was switched on at the time but not the heating elements.