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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Sixth Fatal Cigarette Fire in Three Years

23/11/2012

The death of a 63-year-old Burton woman brings the total number of fatal cigarette fires over the last three years in Staffordshire to six.

“A cigarette burns at 700 degrees Celsius and can easily and quickly set combustible items such as bed linen alight. We would urge smokers never to smoke in bed, it’s so incredibly dangerous and as this tragic incident highlights, could be fatal.”

Prevention Manager, Rebecca Gill.

Susan Walker passed away in hospital on November 19 following a severe fire at her Gough Side home the previous day.

Firefighters are now urging smokers to listen to their advice and not smoke in bed after investigations established this is how the fire started.

Prevention Manager, Becky Gill said: “A fire investigation has established that the woman was smoking in bed and the fire could have started either from cigarette ash falling onto the bedding or the woman falling asleep and dropping the cigarette.

“A cigarette burns at 700 degrees Celsius and can easily and quickly set combustible items such as bed linen alight. We would urge smokers never to smoke in bed, it’s so incredibly dangerous and as this tragic incident highlights, could be fatal.”

Of the six fatal fires caused by cigarettes since 2009, five of the victims were elderly. An elderly Staffordshire Moorlands woman currently remains in hospital three weeks after a fire involving her sofa, caused by the careless disposal of a cigarette.

Becky added: “It may be that as an older person, you have always smoked in bed and it has become a second nature so whilst we acknowledge habits are hard to break please put your safety first and don’t have the ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude.

“Always use proper ashtrays on flat surfaces and ensure that when you come to extinguish the cigarette that it is fully out before discarding. Where possible, smoke outside and have a bucket of sand or water to hand to dispose of the cigarette in. It isn’t worth the risk to ignore our safety advice.”

Firefighters have been in the area following the fire offering neighbouring properties safety advice and free Home Fire Risk Checks. So far out of the 31 homes targeted, 22 have received free Home Fire Risk Checks from firefighters.