ENTERTAINMENT

Claudia Winkleman Speaks For The First Time About Daughter's ‘Life Changing' Injuries After Halloween Costume Caught Fire

14/05/2015 07:21 BST | Updated 14/05/2015 12:59 BST

Claudia Winkleman has spoken for the first time about the serious burns her her daughter sustained after her Halloween costume caught fire last year.

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The ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ presenter opened up to BBC One’s ‘Watchdog’ about the ‘life changing’ injuries eight-year-old Matilda suffered in a bid to prevent similiar accidents.

Matilda was dressed in a witch's costume, which ignited after she brushed against a candle outside a house in October.

claudia winkleman

Claudia Winkleman

"We couldn't put her out," Claudia explained. "Her tights had melted into her skin.

"She went up, is the only way I know how to describe it. It was not like fire I had seen before."

She added: "Like if your shirt caught fire or anything I could put it out.

"It was the tights that... they came back to life. It was like those horrific birthday candles that you blow out and then they come back."

claudia winkleman

Matilda pictured with her father Kris Thykier (left) at the 'I Give It A Year' premiere in 2013

Matilda has had several operations since the accident and her surgeon is calling for tougher fire safety laws on fancy dress outfits.

Jorge Leon-Vallapalos, who treated Matilda at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said there was "a mini epidemic" of paediatric burn injuries "in certain periods of the year".

As part of an investigation to be screened on tonight (Thursday 14 May), ‘Watchdog’ will highlight a legal flaw which classes fancy dress costumes as toys, rather than clothes, which means they are subject to less rigorous safety tests than clothing.

Claudia bought Matilda the witch's costume in a local supermarket for "five quid" last October. It caught fire at a neighbour's house while the family were out trick-or-treating.

claudia winkleman

Claudia with her 'Strictly' co-host Tess Daly

"I was talking to somebody, and then I just heard her scream," Claudia explains.

"She just screamed 'Mummy' and I turned round and that was that, she was just on fire.

"Everyone was screaming. She was screaming, all the kids there were screaming.

"It feels like she was on fire for hours but the surgeon said that definitely wasn't the case and it was probably just seconds."

Claudia, who missed part of last year's series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ following the accident, said her daughter’s injuries were ‘life-changing’.

"It's life-changing but not life defining,” she said. “It was definitely life-changing for me. I can't remember life before it."

Following the incident, Claudia urged people to be more aware of the dangers of open fires.

In a statement, released at the time she said: “We would like to take this opportunity to remind anyone taking part in fireworks parties or Guy Fawkes celebrations to be vigilant about the dangers of candles, open fires and fireworks and to please have the appropriate safety measures in place and to hand.”

Claudia says she now hoped speaking about her experiences would raise awareness and prevent similar accidents.

"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".

'Watchdog' is on BBC One from 8pm on Thursday 14 May.

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