Calls for Francis Maude to quit after woman suffers 40% burns decanting petrol in her kitchen... and panic buying continues
- Woman was moving fuel between containers for her daughter's car
- Flames from gas cooker set petrol fumes alight which engulfed her clothes
- MP calls for Maude to resign over 'irresponsible and stupid' jerry can plea
- Fire Brigades Union calls for 'urgent' safety warnings from the Government
- Halfords reported sales of fuel cans up 225 per cent with motorists buying in ‘the thousands’
- But hauliers rule out strike action until talks resume after Easter
The Cabinet Office Minister who urged drivers to stock up on fuel with jerry cans faced calls to quit today after a middle aged woman set herself alight as she decanted petrol in her kitchen.
The woman, named locally as Diane Hill, 46, was pouring fuel from one container to another with a jug after her daughter's car ran out of petrol on Thursday evening. A day earlier Francis Maude urged drivers to store petrol in jerry cans to avoid running short during a strike by hauliers.
Mrs Hill is believed to ave been cooking dinner at the time and poured the petrol in her kitchen while her gas cooker was burning. The vapours ignited the petrol fumes which engulfed the woman in flames after her clothes caught alight.
Neighbour Margot Johnston, 86, said Mrs Hill’s two daughters, Lauren, 23, and Grace, 18, were in the garden when tragedy struck at 6pm, while her husband Mark was at work.
The daughters raised the alarm and Mrs Hill was was rushed from her home in the Acomb area of York to to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, Yorkshire as two firefighters wearing breathing equipment put out the fire and removed the remaining petrol.
Fire: The semi-detached house in York where a middle-aged woman set herself alight after decanting petrol in her kitchen during the fuel crisis
Danger: A driver carries a container of petrol back to her car in Nottingham today after a woman suffered 40 per cent burns to her body from hoarding fuel
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?
'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 accident is the first since the petrol crisis deepened earlier this week. Labour MP Karl Turner called for Maude to resign over the comments.
He Tweeted today: 'Francis Maude should resign if his politicking and unnecessary panic has led to York woman decanting petrol in kitchen suffering 40% burns.'
He added: 'Irresponsible to say fill jerry can and put in garage. Stupidity of the highest order!'
The minister comments were condemned at the time by several organisations including the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) who said the advice would 'massively increase' the risk of fires and explosions.
The fire service spokesman warned again today of the dangers of storing petrol in homes.
After the accident emerged today, the FBU called for the Government to make an urgent public safety announcement highlighting the dangers of petrol in the home.
The union said that the accident highlighted fire service concerns that the serious dangers of having petrol in the home are not widely understood.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: 'We do not know the details of this tragic incident which will be of concern to everyone in the fire service. Any firefighter hearing what happened will be deeply concerned for the woman involved and her family.
'What this incident shows are the dangers of handling petrol, especially in the home. Petrol is highly flammable, highly explosive, easily ignited and toxic and that message needs to be sent out loud and clear.
'The public do not understand the extreme dangers posed by petrol handling or storage and they must be advised as a matter of urgency. It is particularly critical at this time when we are entering a period when kids are off school.
'Government needs to issue urgent professionally-based advice to warn the public before we have another incident, perhaps with far worse consequences. It is important we're taking every step to ensure there are no other incidents of this kind.'
Peter Hudson, of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the woman 'serious and significant burns'.
He added: 'Her daughter asked her mum for petrol because she had run out. The cooker was on and the fumes ignited.
'She did not think about the fact the gas cooker was on. The petrol then went up and she got burnt. Thankfully we were there very quickly.
Blunder: Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude suggested motorists fill up jerry cans, right, to avoid shortages
'Members of the public should take extreme care when handling and storing petrol and be aware of the risks associated with incorrect use and storage of fuel.
'In domestic situations fuel containers must not be stored in living accommodation such as kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms or under staircases.
'Any storage place should be well away from living areas and be secured to protect against the possibility of vandalism or arson.
'Never bring petrol inside your home. If you do smell petrol fumes in a garage or outbuilding ventilate the area and make sure nobody smokes or turns electrical switches on or off. The slightest spark could cause an explosion.'
He said it was unclear whether the request was in response to the threat of strikes by fuel tanker drivers.
Lee Smith, one of the fire officers called to the scene, told BBC Radio 5, that when the vapours ignited this 'created panic,' causing the woman to spill the petrol, which 'resulted in spillage on the lady's clothes which ignited as well'.