Frantic Stephanie Mitchell grabbed her four children and fled into the street after a blaze tore through her West Lothian bedroom on Monday night.
Now the married mum-of-four is warning others to be on their guard after turning her back on the smouldering incense for less than two minutes.
“I stay away from candles because they cause fires so I use incense sticks,” said a shocked Mrs Mitchell, 24, of Rushbank, Livingston.
“But it wasn’t until the fire brigade told me a chemical in them can spark so anything flammable next to them can go up instantly.”
Mrs Mitchell had lit the sticks she uses to calm anxiety on her bedside cabinet at around 7pm on Monday evening before nipping to the bathroom.
“I was only out of the room for a minute or a minute-and-a-half and there was a burning smell.”
She rushed back into the bedroom to see a pair of jeans near the incense had burst into flames – spreading to the bed’s headboard and a suitcase.
“I froze for a second but then I just shouted to the kids,” said Mrs Mitchell, before pushing the pet rats’ cage into another bedroom and sealing below the door with a wet jumper.
She scooped up eldest kids Zara-Louise, six, and five-year-old Jayden who were playing in an upstairs bedroom and headed downstairs.
Handing them over to her mother-in-law Heather, who had been in the kitchen, she headed into the living room to get three-year-old Alexander and youngest Donny, one.
Safely out in the street, Mrs Mitchell was able to dial 999 and raise the alarm.
“Two fire engines were here in about two minutes,” she said. “They were absolutely brilliant. You could see the smoke had turned the windows black and then they opened a back window and all the smoke came out.”
Mrs Mitchell was given oxygen for smoke inhalation but thankfully everyone else was unharmed. Even pet rats Stitch, Starsky and Hutch survived unhurt. Allowed back in after three hours, they were greeted by a scene of utter devastation.
“There was black smoke up the walls, all the plaster was off the bedroom wall, even the smoke alarm had melted.”
Smoke damage had spread to the children’s rooms wrecking clothes and toys with an estimated total final bill of more than £12,000.
Mrs Mitchell’s husband Donny, 25, raced home from his shift as a bus driver to give his family a grateful hug “He was just relieved we’re all ok,” she said.
Now the family are cleaning up with the help of their landlord but the emotional scars remain, particularly for Alexander.
“He’s not sleeping and is really upset. We’re all sleeping in the living room. I woke up and panicked because he wasn’t there. He was sat on the landing crying,” said Mrs Mitchell.