2 Serious Fires Caused by Portable Electric Heaters in Less Than 2 Weeks

London Fire Brigade have made renewed and repeated warnings about the risks associated with portable electric heaters, following 2 serious fires in less than 2 weeks in London.  Regular subscribers to this blog will recall a similar warning issued by LFB back in January this year.  electric-heater-warning-after-shop-blaze

In one, four fire engines and around 21 firefighters and officers were called to a fire at a block of flats on Sunbeam Crescent in North Kensington.

Five people left the building via an internal staircase before the Brigade arrived. They were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation by London Ambulance Service before being taken to hospital. Around 15 people evacuated from the rest of the building before the Brigade arrived.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a portable heater being left on overnight.   The flat had no working smoke alarms and so fire was able to develop for some time.

A spokesperson for the Brigade said: “Always unplug unused heaters and other electrical items and don’t leave them on overnight. It’s also crucial to have working smoke alarms in your home. Never leave it to chance that you will discover a fire.

“Everyone should have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of their home and test them regularly. This will give the earliest warning if there is a fire in your home.”

Less than 2 weeks earlier in another part of London, three people had a lucky escape after a heater, which was being kept in a storage room, was accidently switched on causing a fire on George Lane in Hither Green.

Fire investigators believe that something accidently switched on the heater’s isolator switch and then items which were being stored on top of the heater began to smoulder and eventually burst into flames.

Worse still, it is reported that the house had no working smoke alarms and so fire was able to develop for some time before one of the occupants thankfully smelt smoke. All three people were able to escape without injury.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson is reported to have said:

“Always unplug unused heaters and other electrical items, it’s surprisingly easy to accidently knock a switch on. It’s also crucial to have working smoke alarms in your home. Never leave it to chance that you will discover a fire.

“Everyone should have at least one working smoke alarm on every level of their home and test them regularly. This will give the earliest warning if there is a fire in your home.

Shockingly over two thirds of fatal fires involving heaters are caused by clothing or furniture being too close.  People need to ensure all heaters are standing upright and kept well away from clothes, curtains or furniture.”

The Brigade’s advice for portable heaters

  • Secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over, or fit wall-mounted heaters
  • Keep heaters away from clothes, curtain and furniture
  • Sit at least one metre away from a heater as it could set light to your clothes or chair, especially if you fall asleep
  • Always turn off your heater and allow it to cool before moving it

30th Anniversary of Kings Cross Fire that Claimed 31 Lives

The early evening of 18th November 1987.  The height of rush hour for thousands of commuters and tourists travelling through London.  a fire broke out and ripped through the station concourse, having taken hold in an escalator plant room.

31 people lost their lives that evening, including one of the firefighters who battled to save them, Station Officer Colin Townsley who had entered the station with colleagues to assess the situation.  100 were left injured by the fire and many many more left traumatised.

This weekend and the coming few days will see  numerous news reports and retrospectives looking back and highlighting some of the lessons that could have, should have been learnt from this tragic and horrific event.

Who would have imagined that 30 years on, no more than a few miles across London, another huge fire would break out and cause enormous loss of life once again.

As a direct result of the fire and loss of life that evening in 1987 and following a public enquiry, important changes were made in fire precautions especially on the underground. Wooden escalators were removed and underground staff were trained in recognising what they should do in the event of fire.

Members of the fire brigade, emergency services, victims families and others affected by the blaze will attend a special service on Saturday 18th November 2017 – 30 years on.

Firework safety

Were you aware that:

It is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in public places and an offence for anyone, other than a firework professional, to possess professional display fireworks.

Police have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to those under the age of 18 caught with fireworks in a public place.

It is illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am. On 5 November, displays can continue until midnight and on certain occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, fireworks can be set off until 1am.

With the 5th November fast approaching thoughts turn to fire work and bonfire safety.  Most Fire Brigades in the UK provide advice via their websites.  We have summarised below the key points.

  •   Only buy fireworks marked with the British Standard Kitemark BS7114
  • Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box and always follow the instructions carefully when using them
  • Light them at arms length using a taper and stand well back
  • Never go back to them once they are lit. Even if a firework hasn’t gone off, it could still explode
  • Never throw fireworks and never put them in your pocket
  • Respect your neighbours – don’t let off fireworks late at night and remember there are laws to follow
  • Take care with sparklers – never give them to children under five. Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put sparklers in a bucket of water after use
  • Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening

Attending well organised events you will often have the chance to see better, more spectacular displays than anything you could put on yourself.