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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Birches Head Fire Caused by Faulty Lighter

16/01/2013

A fire at a house on Acton Street in Birches Head this morning was caused by a faulty cigarette lighter.

"This incident was a near-miss and would have been worse had the man not been home at the time to hear the fire or had the good habit of closing internal doors."

Group Manager Tim Hyde

Two crews from Hanley were called to the terraced house at just after 9.30am this morning. They had to force entry to the property as the house keys were in the room where the fire had broken out.

Group Manager Tim Hyde said: “The caller stated there was no one in the property during the emergency call so when we arrived we immediately forced entry. What we didn’t know was that the caller was actually the occupier, who had called from inside the house as he doesn’t have a mobile phone, before he realised he couldn’t get out.

“What had happened was he’d come home and lit a cigarette then dropped the lighter back into his coat pocket. He took his coat off, put it over the back of a chair in the dining room, shut the door and went into the kitchen.

“When he came back towards the dining room, he heard a crackling sound and realised there was a fire so he called 999 straight away and then went to the back door. However, he’d left his house keys in his coat pocket and so was unable to get out.

“He called his sister, who lives nearby and she was just letting him out of the back door with her keys when we arrived and forced entry to the front of the property.

“Following a fire investigation, it was established that the lighter he was using was faulty as once the button was released to stop the flame, the flame didn’t actually go out for another few seconds.

“A few seconds was all it took for the coat to catch fire and this then spread to the chairs, table and carpet. The room has been left quite badly damaged but thankfully the man is ok.

“Whilst we were at the house, we realised there were no smoke alarms so we’ve fitted new ones and given the man some safety advice as part of a free Home Fire Risk Check.

“We’d encourage smokers to purchase cigarette lighters from reputable shops only and make sure the lighter is fully out before putting away. This incident was a near-miss and would have been worse had the man not been home at the time to hear the fire or had the good habit of closing internal doors, which contained the fire to the one room.”

Crews left the scene at 11.20am.