Claudia Winkleman has now spoken out about the Halloween fire that changed her life forever. The host of Strictly Come Dancing sat down for an interview with BBC series Watchdog to talk about the incident that happened last Halloween.
According to Daily Mail Online, the woman’s daughter wore a Halloween costume that quickly caught on fire after touching an open flame. Claudia and her daughter, Matilda, were at a friend’s house during a night of trick or treating in London when the incident took place.
Winkleman had just started as a host for the U.K. television series, but she took three weeks off from her hosting duties, and she stayed by her daughter’s side in the hospital.
During her interview, Winkleman spoke in detail about the fire that “engulfed” her daughter on Halloween night. For the Halloween holiday, Winkleman purchased a witch costume for her daughter at the supermarket. She revealed that she spent five quid for the costume.
After the costume caught fire, a neighbor received second degrees trying to put out the fire with his own bare hands. Winkleman spoke about the incident in detail.
“I was talking to somebody and then I heard her shout and she was on fire. It feels like she was on fire for hours, but the surgeon said it was probably just seconds. She went up is the only way I know how to describe it – it was a spark and she screamed out for me. It was like those horrific birthday candles that you blow out and they come back. It was really fast, it was fast, it wasn’t fire like I’d seen.”
Jamie Poulton was the man that helped Matilda that night. He was one of the five parents out with Winkleman for Halloween trick or treating. He shared even more about the night and his heroic act. In his mind, he was putting Matilda out to help save her and the other children that were with the group that night.
“Suddenly, Claudia’s daughter went up in a crackling ball of flame. All the children were wearing the same kit. It was like a potential horror film in front of me, because they were all going to go. Once she goes, then the next one catches and they are all going to go off. They were all on the doorstep together, right next to each other. So I just picked her up and lifted her over the children, got her on the pavement and tried to put her out. This material just keeps reigniting and re-burning. And it is sticky, so it melts on the skin. It doesn’t cinder. It remains hot. It was horrific to be honest. I was trying to put it out with my hand. It was a warm night so I wasn’t wearing a jacket. There was nothing immediately to hand to put it out with. Ideally I’d have had something like a towel to douse it all out. But I didn’t have anything. There wasn’t much time to think. I was trying to roll her and pat her clothes. I was trying to rip the costume off her, which didn’t really help because it just ripped and dropped back. It is very bad material. That stuff is terrible. The costumes are very, very cheap to buy. They are nylon and they just go up.”
Winkleman sat down for her interview with Watchdog on BBC because she wanted to warn other parents about the dangers of these Halloween costumes. Currently, costumes as the one Claudia bought her daughter are listed as toys, according to the BBC.
She admitted during the interview that the fire was life-changing for her and her daughter, but the incident will not be “life defining.” However, she cannot remember her life before the Halloween fire.
Winkleman strongly warned about the costumes during her interview.
“I would like parents to – just on Halloween, just to think about what they’re going to put their kids in because I didn’t, and it cost us.”
The BBC reported that in the U.K., “94 people in England were admitted to hospital as a result of their clothing either igniting or melting last year, of which 21 were children under 18.”
In the United States, the National Fire Prevention Association shared some tips about Halloween fire safety. The first step focused on costumes.
“When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.”
In addition, the report asked parents to make sure their child knows what to do if they do catch on fire.
After Claudia Winkleman’s interview aired in the U.K., people went to social media to commend her for speaking out. However, one person on Twitter had a different opinion about her interview.
@ClaudiaWinkle Amazing interview tonight, speedy recovery to your daughter and thank you for raising this issue, I had no idea of danger.
— SS (@Bikerbabe1993) May 14, 2015
@ClaudiaWinkle do you not believe it would of been a better choice, to not be a negligent parent rather then blame and entire industry?
— skirt lifter (@SebastienSupple) May 14, 2015
— Kelly Peachey (@xxpeacheyxx) May 14, 2015
The law needs changing. My heart goes out to claudia winkleman and her daughter, as do my prayers for her full recovery. Change the law now!
— Ian (@InceCooke) May 14, 2015
What do you think of Claudia Winkleman’s story? Have you experienced a similar Halloween fire in your life?
[Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images]