Mum, baby and pet dog left homeless after £2.99 B&M wax burner candle explodes and destroys her flat - despite not being lit
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Vikki Henvey, 33, has been living in a hotel with her six-month-old daughter Tilly since June 13, when a wax melt burner caught fire in her home and completely ruined it – despite not being lit.
Vikki and her baby daughter were not at home when the fire took hold and the family dog Bruno, who was in the property, was saved from the blaze by firefighters.
She said: "It's just honestly been a nightmare. I can't believe it's happened. I had a wax burner in every room of the flat so it's really scary.
"My last property got burgled and we lost everything, and now this has happened and it's like I have to start all over again once again. It's just devastating."
The full-time mum was at a friend's barbecue when she received a text from her neighbour saying her second floor flat was on fire.
She quickly returned home and found two fire engines putting out the blaze – which already gutted her home in less than an hour. The firefighters later told her that it was a £2.99 B&M wax melt burner that was to blame, even though she had safely put it out the night before.
It is thought sunlight through a window reflected off a mirror, and reignited an extinguished candle inside the melt holder.
It heated up and exploded, setting fire to the hallway initially and then flames spread through every room of the flat in Kingston upon Thames, Greater London.
Vikki said: "I'd been at my friend's barbecue for about an hour and a half when my next door neighbour texted to say my flat was on fire and I obviously panicked because my dog was inside.
"I drove home and saw two fire engines outside with a fireman holding my dog who was literally black from the fire - he's normally a brindle colour.
"He was covered in burns but they got him out just in time. We nearly lost him.
"There was all this smoke coming out of the windows and then the firefighters took me upstairs where I saw all of the damage and I just literally broke down.
"The firefighters said that if it had happened at night then there's no way that we would have got out as the fire was by the front door and we live in a second floor flat.”
Vikki bought the wax melt burner for from her local B&M shop in May and had used it regularly in recent weeks.
The night before the fire, she says she lit the wax burner for about an hour and blew out the tealight candle - which sits inside the holder and melts the wax - before going to bed.
The wax burner had been sat on top of a wooden table adjacent to a large mirror.
Firefighters told Vikki that the explosion appears to have set the wooden table alight before spreading through the flat and igniting the flammable furniture.
‘I’ve lost everything’
Vikki said: "A fireman said to me that they don't even have to be on - he said where they overheat over a certain amount of time, they can then actually explode.
"I've lost everything in the flat. All of the stuff that isn't fire damaged is all ruined from the smoke and fire hose. It stinks of damp up there - everything is black.
"My bed and all of Tilly's baby stuff all has to be chucked.
"The lights have all melted and the hallway ceiling has now caved in so I can't even go back into the property now."
For the past two weeks, Vikki has had no choice but to pay £49 a night to stay in a local Travelodge while searching for a new home for her and her family.
She has recently signed a tenancy for a new house but will have to pay for all new furniture as she had no renter's insurance for her belongings.
Vikki, who has been suffering with trauma since the incident, said what happened has caused huge health and financial implications for herself, her daughter and her dog.
"I've been having really bad nightmares. I'm waking up every night soaked in sweat.
"It's really freaked me out knowing we could have died if it had happened in the night.
"Bruno is only a baby too - he's 11 months old and now has panic attacks every evening for about two hours before he settles.
"Every little noise wakes him up and makes him growl, which then wakes Tilly up - it's just a nightmare.
"With none of my furniture insured, we've lost everything. I never thought to insure my stuff - I just didn't think anything like this would ever happen to me."
The London Fire Brigade warned people they have to be careful when using candles and wax melt burners.
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: "Firefighters were called to a fire at a first floor flat on Fassett Road in Kingston on Sunday 13th June.
"Part of the hallway of the flat was damaged by the blaze. Firefighters rescued one dog from the property. There were no reports of any injuries.
"The Brigade was called at 3.17pm and the fire was under control by 4.07pm. Two fire engines from Surbiton and Kingston fire stations were at the scene.
"Any product for your home which uses a candle is a risk, so just like stand-alone candles, tea-lights and incense sticks, we would always advise caution when using them.
"Candles are one of the most common causes of fire, and they should never be left unattended. If you’re leaving the room and especially if you are going out or going to bed, blow them out.
"Any item which requires a candle should ensure it can be placed firmly in a heat-resistant holder and kept on a stable surface where it won’t be knocked over. You should also keep them away from flammable items such as curtains and bedding."