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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Fatal fire caused by discarded cigarettes

21/01/2014

A fire which claimed the life of an elderly woman from Blurton started after discarded cigarettes ignited piles of newspaper in her flat.

"Following a joint fire and police investigation we believe this incident to be accidental, caused by a number of cigarette ends that were dropped onto the carpet amongst piles of newspapers and other combustible materials. Fires such as this spread rapidly and can, as in this case, have devastating consequences. That is why, if you do insist on smoking inside, it is vital to ensure that smoking paraphernalia is always completely extinguished." 

Fire Investigation Officer Brian Griffiths

Crews arrived at the Ripon Road apartment, which was not fitted with smoke alarms, at 10am on Sunday.

They rescued the 70-year-old occupant from the ground floor property and she was taken to University Hospital North Staffordshire. Sadly, she later died of her injuries.

A man in the neighbouring flat was also rescued after the fire spread to his home. He was treated at the scene by paramedics.

Fire Investigation Officer Brian Griffiths said: "Following a joint fire and police investigation we believe this incident to be accidental, caused by a number of cigarette ends that were dropped onto the carpet amongst piles of newspapers and other combustible materials. Fires such as this spread rapidly and can, as in this case, have devastating consequences. That is why, if you do insist on smoking inside, it is vital to ensure that smoking paraphernalia is always completely extinguished.

"Unfortunately, this lady had not had a free Home Fire Risk Check and the property did not have any smoke alarms fitted. There is also evidence that the victim attempted to put out the fire prior to the Service being notified. This is a tragic accident that shows the urgency of evacuating a property as soon as you become aware of a fire, you should never try to tackle a fire yourself.

"It also serves to highlight the importance of fitting smoke alarms, and testing them regularly to ensure they are in good working order. I would urge people to book a free Home Fire Risk Check so that potential risks and solutions can be identified by firefighters and trained technicians."

Two engines from Longton and one from Hanley used four breathing apparatus and one hose reel jet to put out the fire.

The block of flats was evacuated while firefighters tackled the blaze but residents were allowed back into their homes later that day.

The last engine left the scene at 6.01pm.

To book a HFRC call Freephone 080 0241 999, text 07528 983101 or visit http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/bookyourhfrc.asp.