‘Charging phone caused Voe house fire’

A family from Voe are counting their blessings after a house fire laid waste to their kitchen.

Julia Odie was asleep with husband John on Sunday night when their son Craig alerted them to the fire.

John and Julia Odie survey the damage in the kitchen of their Voe home. Photo: Dave Donaldson
John and Julia Odie survey the damage in the kitchen of their Voe home. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Craig had gone downstairs at approaching midnight in order to find the root of a problem with his wi-fi internet when he found the blaze in the kitchen.

He alerted his family before running to a neighbour’s house to find a working phone from which to call the fire brigade.

Fire engines were on the scene quickly, arriving from Brae in around 10 minutes.

In this time the family had safely evacuated the house, taking their two dogs – Charlie and Loki – with them.

But, as Mrs Odie was quick to point out, events could have unfolded very differently.

“We were lucky that they had a crew on standby in Brae or we might have had to wait 30 minutes for the Lerwick fire engines to arrive,” she said.

“We were also lucky Craig was awake and that the shelf above the fire fanned the flames outwards rather than up through the ceiling.”

The family are trying to stay positive after the fire, which they believe was caused by a mobile phone which was left charging as they slept. One lesson they hope people will take from it is the dangers of leaving chargers on overnight.

“Our laptops and chargers were unplugged last night and will be from now on,” Mr Odie said.

Friends and family have been chipping in to help them clean up damage to the property and on the night their neighbours offered them beds to sleep in.

Ryan Thomson, owner of the local shop Tagon Stores, has also allowed Mrs Odie and her family to purchase goods on a tab after finding out that her purse, along with credit cards, had perished in the flames.

Though the house has been restored to a liveable condition the smell of smoke still hangs heavy in the air and the kitchen itself is blackened and ashy.

A number of appliances fell victim to the blaze, including a toaster, microwave and sat nav. Surprisingly, however, the phone believed to be responsible survived – a little melted but still functioning.

Julia was also delighted to find that the blankets, hats and gloves she had been collecting for an Operation Orphan appeal she is spearheading locally had come through the night unscathed.

And though the dogs are still “a little bit weary” they are getting on fine too.

• For more see this week’s Shetland Times.


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