A SCHOOLGIRL is likely to be scarred for life after a freak accident left her with 15per cent burns.

Just minutes before she was due to go to a family birthday party, Shakeera Hamill, of Carnforth, was engulfed in flames down the side of her body.

The ten-year-old was admiring her hair in the living room mirror when her new cotton party dress caught on the gas fire below.

Shakeera instinctively tore the outfit from her body before traumatised mum, Wendy, plunged her into cold water at their Kings Drive home, on Sunday.

The accident happened in the week Lancashire Fire and Rescue Serv-ice launched its ‘Loose Clothing Campaign’ to raise awareness of the dangers of standing too close to a fire.

Miss Hamill said: “Literally, in seconds, the dress went up in flames, and the quickest thing we could do was to get it off, which Shakeera did herself straight away.

“I stamped out the fire, and then all I could think to do was to put her in a bath of cold water. It was all very scary.”

The mum-of-two praised the bravery of the North Road Primary School pupil. “She was screaming in absolute agony. It was awful to watch. And she’s still in a lot of pain now. She has blisters all down her right side and the skin has all come off. The doctors have said it is likely she will be scarred.”

The youngster was airlifted to the Royal Preston Hospital by North West Air Ambulance and has had to return every other day for re-bandaging. “The police, fire and ambulance service were all here. There were about 20 men in the living room. They were brilliant,” said Miss Hamill.

There was no guard around the fire, but Miss Hamill said she will definitely be going to buy one now.

She added: “I would urge everyone to make sure they have one, as well as being more cautious around the fire.”

Rubina Bhatti, community safety advocate for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “In the ‘Loose Clothing Campaign’ we are trying to get the message across not to stand too close to a fire, to put a fire guard up, and to tie up clothing that could catch fire.”

And Miss Bhatti advised on what to do if an accident happened. “The girl’s mum did a good job, putting her in water as that would have eased the burning straight away, and prevented it from being a lot worse. But first, it is important to stop, drop to the ground, and roll to put out the fire, even though it’s natural to want to take off the burning clothes. Sometimes when people have tried to remove clothing, they have caught something, or someone, else on fire.

“And, of course, always ring 999.”