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Fire engines called from afar

09 November 2012

by a staff reporter

Online: an image from the Deddington webcam

Online: an image from the Deddington webcam

A BLAZE at a church altar was tackled with the help of a webcam-viewer, who had tuned in to watch a service.

Katharin Goodland lives in Backwell, north Somerset, hundreds of miles away from St Peter and St Paul's, Deddington, in Oxford­shire; but she tunes in regularly to watch services through the church's live webcam.

After the All Souls' Day service, she spotted a "bright flickering light" on the altar.

"At the front of the church was an altar with a cloth on it. I noticed a lady standing there looking at what looked like a fire or a bright flickering light of some sort. It started to get bigger, and I then could see that it was flames. Another lady came along from the choir to help.

"By then, the fire was getting worse, and smoke was rising into the church. I phoned 999, and gave the address and postcode. Within ten to 15 minutes of my phone call, the fire brigade arrived. By then, the two ladies had bundled up the altar cloth and had found the fire extinguishers to put out the fire.

"It was lucky that I turned on my computer at that very moment. It could have been so much worse."

The Assistant Curate of St Peter and St Paul, the Revd Dan Inman, said that the fire had been caused by tea lights.

He said: "We never expected our technology to be employed thus, but we're enormously grateful to Kathy, as the Fire Brigade were very welcome, and the paramedics treated our sacristan and organist for smoke inhalation.

"It was all very dramatic, and certainly must have livened up Sunday-night viewing on the church webcam. It's wonderful that our congregation stretches well beyond our geographical parameters, of course, but we never expected the online audience to play such an active part in our life."

St Peter and St Paul's has been screening services for more than two years. About 40 viewers log on each Sunday morning for services.

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