Woman catches on fire after falling asleep during the election


A mum who fell asleep watching the election coverage is recovering in hospital after she awoke engulfed in flames – because she sat too close to her gas fire.

Julie Lester, 55, nodded off in front of the television during the historic race on Thursday night next to the warm glow of her gas fire in the lounge of her home in Plymouth, Devon.

But her clothes caught alight and she awoke at 1:40am on Friday morning screaming in pain as the fire spread across her body.

Her son Christopher, 30 and husband Derek awoke from her cries for help and battled to extinguish the fire before calling an ambulance.

She was rushed to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth with burns to 70 per cent of her body before being taken by air ambulance to a special burns unit in Swansea.

Mr Lester’s brother-in-law Andrew Wakefield, also from Plymouth, said the mum-of-one’s dress caught fire in a ”freak accident” as she sat beside the living flame gas fire.

He said: ”It was a freak accident. It happens in a second. You are sat there one minute and the next minute it just happens. It’s horrifying.

”She had fallen asleep watching the election coverage in the lounge and the next minute she was on fire.”

Mrs Lester remains in serious condition in Swansea with burns to 60 to 70 per cent of her body.

Mr Lester was treated at Derriford for burns to his hands and is due to travel to his wife’s bedside as soon as he is released from hospital.

A spokesman for the Plympton fire brigade, who attended the scene, said: ”If you’ve got a naked flame in your home, we urge you to always use afire guard and never dry clothes near the fire.

”We also urge you to make sure your smoke alarms are fully operational.”


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