Whitney Houston fan's candle vigil sparks house blaze
A BRITISH Whitney Houston fan, Anne Lomax, accidently set fire to her Manchester house during a candle-lit vigil for the star who died at the weekend.
The 53 year-old, who had been left "devastated" by the events had been playing the singer's records and saying prayers as she mourned her idol.
She then lit a candle in the 48 year-old star's memory before going to bed. But the curtains then caught fire from a candle flame and the blaze quickly spread to the TV and electrics in the property.
Authorities warned of the dangers of leaving candles on overnight.
Mrs Lomax, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was woken by her smoke alarms just after 2.30am on Valentine's Day, as the fire service raced to the property.
She managed to escape unscathed along with her three dogs while firemen put out the blaze, but the living room of her semi-detached house, in was destroyed.
''I had been sitting at the computer playing some music and saying a prayer for Whitney Houston," she said.
''I was a big fan and I was just devastated when she died so I thought I'd light a candle.
''I was listening to her music and my thoughts were with Whitney."
She added: "'I had a little tealight on the window sill.
''I thought I had blown it out when I went up to bed but the next thing I knew the smoke alarms were going off.
''I dread to think what would have happened if I didn't have smoke alarms. I could have died."
She continued: ''Everyone has candles these days but you don't realise how dangerous they are.
''People should be careful with candles. I really thought I'd blown it out, I can't believe the damage it has caused. It's devastating.''
Three fire crews from Oldham and Chadderton Fire Stations were called to the house.
Watch manager Rick Taylor said: ''The blaze quickly spread from the curtains to the TV and electrics in the house.
''It caused thick black smoke but thankfully they had a working smoke alarm which gave them an early warning. We also managed to rescue three dogs from the property.''
Greater Manchester Fire Authority chairman David Acton added: ''Candle safety is so important. Never leave candles unattended, whether you're using them to decorate your home or as a religious symbol, they can be dangerous.
''Remember to extinguish candles before you go to sleep and make sure the candle is standing up straight and is in a proper holder so it can't fall over.''
Houston died in Beverly Hills, California, on Saturday.