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Burn injury girl helps fire safety

A teenager from South Africa, thought to have survived the most horrific burn injuries in the world, has flown into London to help the Fire Brigade raise awareness of the dangers of lighting candles at Christmas time.

When she was just six months old, Dorah Mokoena, now 16, lost her nose, eyelids, and bone in her forehead in a fire started by a candle in a squatter camp in South Africa.

During attempts to repair her burns, her hands and most of the rest of her body were damaged.

Following appeals from the South African-based charity Fire Children, she was flown to the UK in 1998 for surgery to repair some of the damage.

Now living in Johannesburg, the same charity arranged for Dorah to return to the UK on Thursday, ahead of the London Fire Brigade's Christmas safety campaign in Southwark.

With 1,300 home fires a year caused by candles in the UK, the "so beautiful, so lethal" campaign is aimed at highlighting the dangers of lighting candles at home.

In 2008, 18 people died in fires caused by candles, national statistics indicate.

After cigarette lighters, they are the second highest cause of fire injuries in the UK, London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said.

He added he was delighted Dorah would be at the launch.

"Dorah is an extremely courageous young woman and it is an absolute tragedy that she was so seriously injured by fire," he said.

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