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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Couple warn of E-cigarette risk following fire

07/11/2014

The smoke and fire damaged living room
The smoke and fire damaged living room

A couple from Birches Head are warning people about the potential dangers of E-cigarettes after a device exploded causing severe damage to their home.

"I would urge people never to leave E-cigarettes on charge overnight – the damage caused to our house is absolutely catastrophic. I would also encourage people to have an escape route planned. We are still very shaken by our experience and don’t want other people to go through a similar incident – we feel very lucky to be alive." 

John Walton - victim of a house fire in Birches Head

John Walters and Carole Poulson were rescued from their first floor bedroom by a part-time firefighter who saw for the blaze from his own home nearby.

Unfortunately their pet dog died as a result of the fire which broke out in the early hours of this morning.

The couple were alerted to the fire after the E-cigarette exploded, creating a loud bang which set the security alarm off. There were no smoke alarms in the Moston Street property.

It is believed that the E-cigarette battery had been attached directly to the mains charging plug and left to charge overnight. Investigations discovered that there was no cable containing a fuse to link the two components and which would have acted as a safety device and cut off the electrical current when the battery overheated.

Mr Walters said the couple had been shocked at the ferocity of the fire.

He added: "It was all a bit of a surreal experience. We were woken up by the security alarm going off and my partner thought that we were being burgled. I went to investigate but as soon as I opened the bedroom door, I was hit by the intense heat from the fire, which was at the foot of the stairs.

"We were lucky that the windows in the bedroom are large so when the part-time firefighter who lives across the road came with the ladder, we were able to climb out quite easily.  I dread to think what would have happened if the windows were small and didn’t open very far, we would have been trapped.

"I would urge people never to leave E-cigarettes on charge overnight – the damage caused to our house is absolutely catastrophic. I would also encourage people to have an escape route planned. We are still very shaken by our experience and don’t want other people to go through a similar incident – we feel very lucky to be alive."

Group Manager Brian Griffiths, who led the incident, added: "This was a severe fire which caused a significant amount of damage to the house. The residents were asleep in bed when the blaze broke out and it is fair to say that they had an incredibly lucky escape.

"This incident is a stark warning to people never to leave E-cigarettes on charge for long periods over time, particularly overnight, and to always follow the manufacturers’ guidelines. It also highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms in your home. We have had a number of incidents in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent when people’s lives have been saved because their smoke alarms activated."

It took two crews from Hanley and one from Sandyford to tackle the blaze. They wore four breathing apparatus and used two hose reel jets.

Firefighters arrived at the incident at 12.35am and left at 2.29am. The incident has been classed as accidental.

The couple were taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital where they were treated for smoke inhalation.