VIDEO: Mum who lost house in fire said alarms saved her family
A mum who lost her home in a fire said safety alarms saved her and her young children.
Jules Handley burnt her hands in a brave attempt to control the blaze in her house in Angmering Way, Rustington, which broke out in the early hours of Thursday, February 15.
Her six-year-old daughter Scarlett and son William, three, were sleeping with their mother in her bedroom while the fire raged below in the living room, which Jules believed had been started by a Playstation 2 console catching alight.
Thanks to her carbon monoxide and fire alarms, she woke up in time and got her children outside to safety before neighbours called the fire service at around 6.45am.
She said: "I want to get the message out to people about how important these alarms are. The fireman I spoke to said there are still so many people out there who do not have fire alarms, or take out the batteries for their television remotes.
"The reason me and my children are safe are because of these fire safety alarms."
The A&E nurse at Worthing Hospital went back inside and fought through smoke to reach the gas lever in her living room, burning her hands on the metal handle as she turned it off. She did so to prevent an explosion which could have had a devastating impact on her home and her neighbour's houses.
She was treated by paramedics, who were also her friends, at the scene for minor burns and smoke inhalation.
The 32-year-old said: "I didn't care about me; I thought about my children. When I turned that lever off, all I was thinking was what would have happened if it imploded into my children.
"It was a bit stupid, but the fireman said it would have made his work a lot harder if I hadn't done that, because they would have had to evacuate the whole road."
The living room was gutted by the blaze, and the whole house was affected by smoke damage. Jules said: "You couldn't even tell what my television was; it is amazing that the forensics people can tell what started the fire."
Many family belongings were destroyed, including a priceless photograph of Scarlett with her uncle Michael Handley, who died last year aged 20, which hung above the fireplace but was reduced to ash. Jules also urged people to get contents insurance, saying she had 'learnt the hard way'.
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, the British Red Cross Society gave the family clothes and advice on what to do next, and Jules said she had since been inundated with donations of clothes and children's toys. Her friend Shelley Mair has raised more than half of a £500 target for the family via a JustGiving page. Click here to donate.Shelley, from Gosden Road, Littlehampton, said: "I've always had the outlook on live that you should put yourself in that position, and if that was me I would want someone to help.
"Everything else can be replaced, but you and your children can't be."
Next week, Jules said she will be cleaning the house with her family and salvaging some possessions before she moves to a new home in Terminus Road, Littlehampton, and 'starting again', putting this 'horrendous nightmare' behind them.
Jules wanted to thank everyone who had supported her and her children. She said: "You don't think it is going to happen to you, and when it does it is devastating, but then your faith is put back into humanity."
This is the second house fire in Littlehampton in recent months. A family was made homeless two days after Christmas after their house was destroyed; click here to read more.
The fire service also issued a safety warning after the fire in Jules' home. Click here to read it.