A horrendous accident has left a York mother critically ill and ignited a political row that has shaken the government.
The woman was decanting petrol from a jerry can to a glass jug when it caught fire. York firefighters attended the incident, at Moorgate, yesterday evening.
Here’s how the story unfolded.
York petrol nightmare
Storified by · Mon, Apr 02 2012 13:45:50
York firefighters attended the scene and filed this report.
Incident Involving Petrol30th March 2012Date: 30th March 2012Location: YorkNorth Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service (NYFRS) attended a domestic property fire in York yesterday involving a female occupier who was in her kitchen and whilst decanting petrol from one container to another the petrol ignited and set fire to her clothing. The casualty was treated by Ambulance personnel and was taken to Pinderfields Hospital with 40% burns to her whole body.2 Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel jet to extinguish a small fire in the kitchen and removed the remaining petrol.UPDATE at 12-00Lady was aged mid 40’s and from the Acomb area of YorkThey were decanting petrol from one container to another using a glass jug in the kitchen, the fumes from the gas cooker ignited the petrol vapour.
The BBC reported more details.
A fire service spokesman said: "Her daughter asked her mum for petrol because she had run out. The cooker was on and the fumes ignited."
Fire station manager Lee Smith, whose Acomb crew attended the fire shortly after 18:00 BST on Thursday, said: "The people were cooking their tea and dispensing petrol from a container to a glass jug."The vapour then ignited, the jug was then spilt which obviously ignited as well and the person involved in the decanting was consumed by the flames."Her daughter phoned 999 and was obviously extremely distressed."
The woman was identified as Diane Hill, from Moorgate, off Acomb Road. She was described as “critically ill” but stable in Pinderfields.
According to her Facebook page, Mrs Hill attended Ashfield School in York.
The York Press spoke to her neighbour who witnessed the immediate aftermath of the accident.
Neighbour Margot Johnston told The Press Mrs Hill’s two daughters, Lauren, 23, and Grace, 18, were in the garden of the property when tragedy struck at 6pm, while her husband Mark was at work.Mrs Johnston said: "I saw flames coming from someone and someone running into the garden. I feel so awful because I felt so impotent. What could I do?"Mrs Johnston said the family had lived at the property for two years and moved there from Stamford Bridge.Mrs Johnston said: “I’m in absolute shock. I understand, luckily, the fire didn’t affect her face but she suffered severe burns to her body. I cannot believe this has happened. I couldn’t sleep last night. I didn’t see anything this bad during the war.“I’m 86 and I really feel my age today, I’m just stunned. Those poor daughters of hers.”
The Telegraph reported a tweet from one of the injured woman’s daughters.
Two hours earlier Miss Hill, 18, had written on Twitter that she was low on fuel but had no money, and was worried about petrol stations running out of supplies.Mrs Hill was pouring the petrol from a jerry can into a glass jug for her daughter’s hatchback when the vapour was ignited by the gas cooker at 6pm on Thursday. As Mrs Hill jumped in shock, the jar tipped over, spilling petrol all over her clothes, which went up in flames.
The horrific incident was immediately linked to the petrol shortages caused by panic buying at the pumps.
Earlier on Thursday Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude had advised motorists to store extra fuel at home as a contingency as petrol tanker drivers voted for strike action in a dispute about pay and conditions.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude suggested that drivers should take extra precautions, despite motoring organisations and energy firms urging people not to panic-buy.When asked about what motorists should do in case of a walkout, he said: "A bit of fuel in a jerry can in the garage is a sensible precaution."
This brought an immediate response from the Fire Brigades Union.
Francis Maude is playing with fire by advising motorists to store jerry cans of petrol in their garages, the FBU has warned.Demanding the advice be withdrawn, the union says stockpiles of petrol will massively increase fire and explosion risk.Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “This is not sensible advice and people should be discouraged from doing so. The general public does not properly understand the fire and explosion risk of storing fuel even if it was done sensibly.“Those without garages may be tempted to store fuel in the home. In the event of a fire in the house or a neighbouring property it would be disastrous.
Following Mrs Hill’s hospitalisation, Labour peer Lord Toby Harris and Labour Hull East MP Karl Turner were among those calling for Mr Maude to resign.
This woman was following advice from Govt Minister Francis Maude & ends up with 40% burns. http://t.co/l2W172XA Disgraceful. He shd resign.Lord Toby Harris
Francis Maude should resign if his politicking and unnecessary panic has led to York woman decanting petrol in kitchen suffering 40% burnsKarl Turner MP
The government said Mr Maude wouldn’t resign.
Prime Minister David Cameron commented on the story, as reported in The Times.
Asked about the injuries suffered by Diane Hill, a 46-year-old from York who received 40 per cent burns after trying to decant petrol while cooking her dinner, Mr Cameron said it was “absolutely a desperate incident”.“My heart goes out to her and her family,” he added. “Everything that can be done is being done to help her at this time.”
And in an interview for Newsnight on BBC2, Baroness Warsi claimed Labour were trying to make political capital over the incident.
‘Labour sickening’ over burned womanBaroness Warsi accuses Labour of trying to make political capital out of the news that a woman suffered 40% burns when petrol ignited as …
Meanwhile, petrol stations across York continue to run dry.
Anyone know of petrol station in York that actually has petrol? Our car now running on fumes. Bloody panic buyers & dumbass MPs!Mandy Clarke