A new mum has “lost everything” after a wax melt burner from B&M exploded and caused a massive fire that destroyed her flat – after her previous one had been burgled.
Vikki Henvey, 33, was at a friend’s BBQ when she received a text from her neighbour saying her second floor flat was on fire.
Full-time mum Vikki and baby Tilly, six months, found two fire engines putting out the blaze which had already ripped through her two-bed home in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.
Firefighters told her that if the fire had broken out during the night, there would’ve been “no way” they’d get out safely as the blaze was right beside the front door and the flat is on the second floor.
While she has just signed a new tenancy agreement, none of her belongings were insured, meaning she will have to buy everything all over again.
Vikki also almost lost their beloved dog Bruno as he was in the flat when the explosion happened. He is now suffering from panic attacks as a result of his trauma.
Firefighters said the £2.99 wax melt burner was to blame – even though it wasn’t lit at the time.
It is thought sunlight through a window reflected off a mirror, and re-ignited an extinguished candle inside the melt holder.
It heated up and exploded – setting fire to her hallway, which spread flames through every room in her home.
Vikki said: “It’s just honestly been a nightmare. I can’t believe it’s happened. I had a wax burner in every room of the flat so it’s really scary.
“I’d been at my friend’s BBQ for about an hour and a half when my next door neighbour texted to say my flat was on fire and I obviously panicked because my dog was inside.
“I drove home and saw two fire engines outside with a fireman holding my dog who was literally black from the fire – he’s normally a brindle colour.
“He was covered in burns but they got him out just in time – we nearly lost him.
“There was all this smoke coming out of the windows and then the firefighters took me upstairs where I saw all of the damage and I just literally broke down.
“My last property got burgled and we lost everything, and now this has happened and it’s like I have to start all over again once again.
“It’s just devastating.”
Vikki purchased the wax melt burner for £2.99 from her local B&M store back in May 2021 and used it regularly in recent weeks.
She lit the wax burner the night before the fire for about an hour and blew out the tealight candle – which sits inside the holder and melts the wax – before going to bed.
The next day, June 13, she headed out at lunchtime with baby Tilly to her friend’s home for a BBQ about 15 minutes away from the flat.
Vikki’s dog Bruno stayed at home in the hallway behind a stairgate where the wax burner sat on top of a wooden table adjacent to a large mirror.
She said firefighters told her they believe sunlight was reflected, relighting the tealight candle and causing the ceramic holder to overheat and explode, spreading the flames.
The explosion appears to have set the wooden table alight, she said, before spreading through the flat and igniting the flammable furniture.
Vikki said: “A fireman said to me that they don’t even have to be on – he said where they overheat over a certain amount of time, they can then actually explode.
“I’ve lost everything in the flat. All of the stuff that isn’t fire damaged is all ruined from the smoke and fire hose. It stinks of damp up there – everything is black.
“My bed and all of Tilly’s baby stuff all has to be chucked.
“The lights have all melted and the hallway ceiling has now caved in so I can’t even go back into the property now.”
Since the fire, Vikki has been paying £49 a night to stay in a local Travelodge while searching for a new home for her and her family.
Vikki, who is suffering with trauma, said: “I’ve been having really bad nightmares. I’m waking up every night soaked in sweat.
“It’s really freaked me out knowing we could have died if it had happened in the night.
“Bruno is only a baby too – he’s 11 months old and now has panic attacks every evening for about two hours before he settles.
“Every little noise wakes him up and makes him growl, which then wakes Tilly up – it’s just a nightmare.
“Hopefully he’ll settle soon and get out of it but it’s been over a week now and nothing has changed.
“With none of my furniture insured, we’ve lost everything. I never thought to insure my stuff – I just didn’t think anything like this would ever happen to me.”
The Essence Ceramic Oil Burner is described on the B&M website as being able to ‘provide a constant and pleasant aroma at home’.
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Firefighters were called to a fire at a first floor flat on Fassett Road in Kingston on Sunday 13th June.
“Part of the hallway of the flat was damaged by the blaze. Firefighters rescued one dog from the property. There were no reports of any injuries.
“The Brigade was called at 1517 and the fire was under control by 1607. Two fire engines from Surbiton and Kingston fire stations were at the scene.
“Any product for your home which uses a candle is a risk, so just like stand-alone candles, tea-lights and incense sticks, we would always advise caution when using them.
“Candles are one of the most common causes of fire, and they should never be left unattended. If you’re leaving the room and especially if you are going out or going to bed, blow them out.
“Any item which requires a candle should ensure it can be placed firmly in a heat-resistant holder and kept on a stable surface where it won’t be knocked over. You should also keep them away from flammable items such as curtains and bedding.”