A BRAVE Port Glasgow teenager who suffered horrific burns in an accident as a young child is backing a Halloween fancy dress fire safety campaign.

Karla Peacock, 16, was badly burned just before her fifth birthday when she bent over a scented candle to practise blowing out her birthday candles.

Within seconds her hair was engulfed by flames and she spent eight weeks in hospital with second and third degree burns to her scalp, suffering lasting nerve damage.

Now she is helping to front a new push asking people to use flameless candles.

Karla said: “All I can remember was shouting fire, fire, and my mum screaming and then me being in an ambulance.

"I was in hospital for a long time and I’ve had multiple operations since.

“My injury has had an impact not just on my appearance, but also how I feel about myself.

"With the skin grafts my scars are only visible now if I point them out but they are always visible to me.

"Due to my surgeries I’ve been left with nerve damage and spinal pain and I also get panicked when I smell smoke and hear alarms or sirens."

Karla is fully behind the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's drive to urge people to use battery powered tealight candles rather than the real thing.

The service says Halloween costumes are classed as toys and do not carry the same safety rating as normal clothing, meaning they may burn more quickly.

Switching to reusable battery-operated candles removes any risk of open naked flames igniting clothing or other materials.

Karla, of Bardrainney Avenue, said: "This Halloween my advice is to go flameless and switch to reusable candles.

"With no naked flame it totally removes any risk of injury.

"I want to share my story to stop another child having to experience what I have.”

The SFRS deputy assistant chief officer Alasdair Perry said: “I commend Karla for her bravery in sharing her story, which shows only too starkly why children should never be left alone near a naked flame and lit candles should never be left unattended.

“We want everyone to have a fun Halloween but we also want it to be safe.

"We’re urging people to swap tealight and other candles with a naked flame for a reusable flameless type instead, as this simple step completely removes the risk of fire and the dangers it brings.

Despite her traumatic experience in early life Karla is positive about her future and is now in college studying theatre makeup and construction.

Karla and her family credit her recovery to the support they have received from the Scottish Burned Children’s Club.

The charity's chairperson Claire Gardiner said: “Not many people realise the relentless operations and hospital appointments that children need to attend when they have suffered a burn or scald injury as the affected skin doesn’t always grow with the rest of their body.

“This not only causes recurrent physical pain for the child, but also the emotional and mental impact that it can have, not only for the injured child but on the family as a whole.

“Karla and her family have shown immense courage to share their story about the dangers of being around naked flames.

“The Scottish Burned Children’s Club fully support the call to ‘go flameless’ this winter and help prevent this type of injury happening to someone else.

"Please follow the advice from Karla and the SFRS and go flameless where possible.”