THE Victorian home was not a safe one.

The use of candles and oil lamps were a constant source of danger and caused many fires and deaths until the time of gas lamps, although these too caused carbon monoxide poisoning if the gas leaked.

Candles and lamps were easily knocked over if on tables.

The biggest danger was the open fires. Children were killed by accidentally falling onto them and their clothes catching fire.

It also happened to many women when they came close to the flames, with their clothing too catching light.

Owing to the materials used in their manufacture, they caught quickly and for many this could have been avoided if a fire guard had been used.

However these were seen as too inconvenient and cumbersome as the fire was used daily to cook, heat water and warm the room so access was nearly constant.

In a room at the home of the McNellans in Clackmannan, they too did not have a guard in front of their fire.

On the morning of Sunday 9th September 1862, a couple were preparing to get ready to attend church.

Neither would make it that day.

Alexander McNellan was employed by the Carsebridge Distillery and was married to his 65 year old wife Agnes.

As he sat in his armchair by the fire in the front room, he was partially dressed in his Sunday best and Agnes approached him to put on his neckcloth.

This meant she had to stand in front of him between his chair and the open fire. As she stooped over to tie it, her skirts caught fire.

Within seconds, she was engulfed in flames. McNellan jumped from his chair and did his best to put out the flames while his wife screamed.

As he tried to do so, McNellan's hands were badly burned.

Hearing the screams and the commotion, neighbours came running from their homes to see what was going on.

They rushed into the house and began tearing off the woman's clothing.

Once the burning garments had been removed, she was carried to her bed.

The doctor was called immediately but there was little he could do.

He tended to her burns as best he could, but she succumbed to her injuries at 4 o'clock that afternoon.

McNellan's burns were treated and survived his wife for another five years.

At the time of his death, he was 76 years old.

e never got over the incident or the death of his wife.