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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Warning About Use of Bio Ethanol Fuel

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have issued a warning over the use of Bio-Ethanol burners following the third serious incident in the county in 10 months.

“This accident involved a decorative Bio Ethanol burner placed on a table. The burner had been lit earlier in the evening but then appeared to have gone out. As the man squirted fuel into the pot, there was a loud bang and he and the room were showered with burning fuel".

Station Manager, Toby Wilson.

Firefighters from Lichfield were called to a house in Nelson Close, Lichfield at 8pm on Wednesday after a table-top Bio Ethanol burner exploded whilst being refuelled. A man suffered burns and was taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.    

Station Manager and Tactical Advisor Toby Wilson, said: “This accident involved a decorative Bio Ethanol burner placed on a table. The burner had been lit earlier in the evening but then appeared to have gone out. As the man squirted fuel into the pot, there was a loud bang and he and the room were showered with burning fuel.

“This type of modern decorative burner has a naked flame fuelled by Bio Ethanol liquid or gel and is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. However I am warning people never to underestimate the hazards of this extremely flammable type of fuel. It should be treated with the highest level of caution and always be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and safety advice. 

“It is especially important to position the burner away from combustible materials such as curtains as the fuel can burn without a visible flame.”

Firefighters left the house at Lichfield about 11.30pm. The cause of the fire was accidental ignition.

Last June a woman died following a fire at her Uttoxeter home caused by a Bio Ethanol heating appliance and in February this year a man suffered serious burns after squirting Bio Ethanol on to a log burner which cause a rapid ignition of the vapour. 

Head of Risk Reduction Glynn Luznyj, said: “We are very concerned that we have now had three serious incidents in Staffordshire involving Bio Ethanol fuel. We are working with other Fire and Rescue Services nationally through the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, as well as with Trading Standards and ROSPA, to do all we can to ensure people are aware of the dangers associated with the fuel.”

Advice for the use of Bio Ethanol burners includes:

• Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.
• Only use Bio Ethanol fuel in fireboxes and containers designed for the product.
• Bio Ethanol fuel is highly flammable and should be kept in containers tightly closed and away from any ignition sources.
• Fireboxes and containers should always be placed on a stable surface and away from combustible materials.
• Never add fuel to a burning fire or overfill a fuel container and never fill up a firebox fuel container that is still hot.
• Keep children and pets away from fireboxes and fuel.
• Extinguish all fires when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
• Always use Bio Ethanol fireboxes and containers in a well-ventilated room.
• Regularly clean and check the fuel container for damage and never use if it is leaking.
• Clean up fuel spills with a damp cloth and dry completely.
• Keep your hands, hair and clothing well clear of any burning flames and fuel.
• Always light Bio Ethanol fuel with an extended lighter or extra-long match –never discard matches into the container.