Catherine’s Story

"I still don't have any candles in my house, as they are as dangerous as any other flame..." quote from Catherine Download Image

Catherine is a burn survivor who bravely contacted Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service, wanting to help spread the message of candle fire awareness. This is her story.

“My name is Catherine Cockburn. I was involved in a candle fire on July 16th 2007.

When I was cleaning at home, I moved a large Yankee Candle that was lit from a table to my fireplace. As I moved the candle, a breeze blew my summer dress over the flame. I quickly went up in flames and panicked.

My daughter, who was ten at the time, came downstairs, rang 999 and thought to put a towel over me (luckily, the Fire Service had recently been to Sherwood School and given the pupils a fire safety talk).

The Fire Service arrived first and then administered first aid until the ambulance arrived.

Initially, the paramedics took me to Royal Preston Hospital, but due to the extent of my injuries, I was later transferred to the specialist burn unit at Wythenshawe Hospital.

I stayed in hospital for three months. For the first 48 hours, I was placed in a medically-induced coma – doctors told my family to fear the worst. As part of my treatment, I received five skin grafts in the hospital and had to go through intensive therapy to help get me back on my feet.

From the accident, I received burns of multiple different depths, covering 35% of my body in scar tissue.

In the months and years that followed, I had to visit Royal Preston Hospital many times. I also went on to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For her actions to help save me, my daughter went on to win a Red Rose Hero Award, as well as the Pride of Lancashire Award.

I still don’t have any candles in my house, as they are as dangerous as any other flame.”

LFRS would like to thank Catherine for her honesty and openness in talking about such a difficult and traumatic event. We’d also like to commend her daughter, whose quick thinking might well have saved Catherine’s life.

Candles are fires too, and it just takes a single moment around naked flames to cause injury or even death. Catherine’s story is testament to this fact.

Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Never leaving burning candles unattended.
  • Never lighting candles near fabrics of any kind.
  • Keeping lit candles on a level and stable surface.

For more information about candle fire safety, why not visit our new article on candle safety tips?