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Fire ruins abuse victim's birthday

PUBLISHED: 15:05 24 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK Fire Service have warned people of the danger of not having a smoke alarm after a flat fire in Ipswich caused extensive damage.

Fire broke out in a middle floor flat in Peterhouse Close at around 10am and causing heavy smoke damage.

SUFFOLK Fire Service have warned people of the danger of not having a smoke alarm after a flat fire in Ipswich caused extensive damage.

Fire broke out in a middle floor flat in Peterhouse Close at around 10am and causing heavy smoke damage.

The blaze came as a big blow to the occupier David Ditcham, who is celebrating his 23rd birthday.

Earlier this week Mr Ditcham was featured in The Evening Star when he spoke out about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Talesian Lawson – the former Ipswich entertainer known as Kriss David.

Fire services said a cigarette left burning was the probable cause of today's fire.

Assistant Divisional Officer Geoff Pyke said: "We received the call and in the first instance it was thought a person may be in the flat, this turned out not to be true and nobody was in the flat. "A full search was also carried out on the flats above but nobody was in. "Four appliances attended, and two hoses and breathing apparatus were used."

Mr Ditcham's mother was on the scene and was comforting her son, she said: "He is devastated and doesn't know where he is going to go from here. "It is his birthday today and he didn't even manage to get his cards."

Mr Ditcham was too upset to talk he simply said: "I can not believe it this, I was smoking a cigarette and I went out. "I am just so glad someone smashed the alarm outside the flat in time otherwise something really bad could have happened."

ADO Pyke sent out a message to the whole of Suffolk to buy a smoke alarm if they do not already have one.

"This was a mattress fire and the type of bedding material meant there was a lot of smoke damage but luckily the fire was small. "It is so important to be able to detect these fires quickly as cigarette fires account for over one third of deaths and injure over 500 children a year.

"I would encourage families to get smoke alarms for their hallways and upstairs as they save lives and for them to get a fire plan so in the event of a fire they know exactly what they are doing."

There are some simple guidelines to follow and for more information on these please contact the Community Fire Safety Team on Ipswich 588906.

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