Husband forced to choose between saving wife and dog from house fire

A man has described the moment he had to choose between saving his wife or his dog after a huge fire tore through his house.

Malcolm and Karen Catterall jumped from an upstairs window to escape a raging fire at their home in Walkden, Greater Manchester, on Monday night.

Karen was left with two broken heels, but tragically Pluto, their Labrador, died after running back into the blaze.

The house caught fire when they had left a pan of food on low heat for when the couple’s son Correy, 23, returned from work at around 11pm.

It’s believed the pan of mushy peas had burnt dry in just 15 minutes, and the resulting back-draught caused by Correy opening the front door resulted in flames tearing through the property. Malcolm, 53, a former serviceman in the Royal Navy, took his wife and their beloved pet to make an escape through the bedroom window.

Malcolm said he had only moments to figure out how they were all going to escape. He decided to jump out of the first floor window into the back garden, and was then followed by Karen, but even though Malcolm caught his wife she still broke both her heels.

Tragically, in the scramble to escape the fire Pluto broke free and ran back into the flames. Malcolm said: ‘At the time I had to make the call between my dog or my wife.

‘I did have hold of him but he started to panic and ran off. The problem is, he’s deaf. We were shouting him but he wouldn’t have been able to hear us. ‘I nearly went back in for him but by that time the house was full of thick, toxic smoke. ‘He was a lovely dog too and he sadly didn’t make it.’

The fire as it raged through the house. (Picture: chrispm87/Twitter)

The charred remains of the inside of the house. (Picture: MEN Media)

The majority of the house was unfortunately devastated by the fire. Malcolm said: ‘It’s one of those things you think could never happen to you. ‘We’d left the pan on the lowest heat for about 15 minutes. Then Correy opened the door and it went up.

‘It was like something out of a film. The back-draught caused it to go through the whole house. We couldn’t get down the stairs. ‘We used to live in a wooden house in Sweden and there were fires there all the time.’

‘That combined with being in the Navy meant I always had a contingency plan if there was ever a fire. I just held my breath and crouched below the smoke to get out. ‘The fire service were here within minutes. I can’t praise them enough. Our neighbours have been very good to us too.

‘I just hope this makes people realise what can happen if you leave food on the hob, even just for a few minutes while you go into the front room to watch television. ‘We’re lucky to have got out of there alive and that’s what we keep telling ourselves.’

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