The East Anglian Daily Times has reported that two households had lucky escapes after fires in Frinton and Colchester at the weekend, prompting a warning from fire chiefs for people to check their smoke alarms.
The kitchen of the first-floor flat in Connaught Avenue, Frinton, above a bakery, was destroyed in a blaze sparked by a faulty fridge-freezer at 6.50am yesterday.
Leading Firefighter Anthony Clement said: “There was a smoke alarm in the flat but it had no batteries.
“The two occupants were very lucky because they were woken up by the alarm from the bakery below.
“The kitchen fire would have cut off their escape from the property, if they had not been woken. They were very fortunate.”
Two fire crews from the town extinguished the blaze using three jets by 8.27am.
The incident came two days after a fire in Harsnett Road, Colchester, believed to have been caused by a mobile phone overheating under a quilt, “destroyed” a bedroom.
Two fire engines were called to the semi-detached house at 6.40pm on Friday. The blaze was put out shortly after 7.20pm.
Sub officer Stephen Smith said: “There were no smoke alarms inside the property, which could have prevented such a substantial fire. The rear bedroom of the first floor was destroyed by the fire.
“Fortunately, one of the occupiers smelt the fire. Had this been late at night, it could have been a completely different outcome.”
Essex County Fire & Rescue Service (ECFRS) has also issued warnings about candles and rechargeable batteries in the past week after two other fires in north Essex.
A bungalow in Lavender Walk, Jaywick, also had a bedroom damaged on Friday night in a fire caused by a candle.
Officers are urging people not to leave Lithium Polymer, or LiPo, batteries, unattended when charging or overcharged after one of them inside a remote control for a toy car was thought to be behind a blaze in Chapel Hill, Braintree, which left a family of four homeless last Monday.
LiPo batteries can store more power than traditional batteries and are now used in many toys and gadgets, but ECFRS warn they are more volatile and can explode if mishandled.