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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Severe house fire sparks smoking safety warning

The remains of the settee
The remains of the settee following the fire at Bond Street

Firefighters have issued a safety warning in the wake of a severe house fire in Tunstall which was caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials.

"The crews did an excellent job in challenging circumstances which not only involved tackling a severe house fire but which also had the added complication of rescuing two people trapped inside the property. The couple had an incredibly lucky escape and the situation could have very easily been catastrophic for them." 

Station Manager Neil Pedersen

The Service is urging people not to smoke inside but, if they do, to ensure that cigarettes are completely extinguished and disposed of in a safe manner.

The blaze broke out in a two bedroom terraced property on Bond Street at 4.20am today.

It is thought that an occupant had dropped a lit cigarette end or hot embers from an ashtray on to the settee in a sitting room at the rear of the house before going upstairs to bed.

A female resident was in a front living room, also on the ground floor, and had fallen asleep. The door joining the two rooms was closed.

Two Staffordshire Bull Terriers were upstairs and sadly died of smoke inhalation as the fumes rose upwards and into the bedroom they were in. The door into the room had been left open.

On arrival at the property, crews from Sandyford, Hanley and Burslem found the woman in the front room but unable to escape as she could not find her key. They smashed the windows and rescued her.

Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus then tackled the blaze in the back room using two hose reel jets.

They discovered the male in an upstairs en-suite bathroom and broke the window from the inside so that he could be rescued from the rear of the property using a ladder.

Both the man and woman were taken to Royal Stoke University Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The smoke alarms had been activating when firefighters arrived at the property.

Station Manager Neil Pedersen, who was at the incident, said: "The crews did an excellent job in challenging circumstances which not only involved tackling a severe house fire but which also had the added complication of rescuing two people trapped inside the property. The couple had an incredibly lucky escape and the situation could have very easily been catastrophic for them.

"I cannot stress strongly enough how vital it is that any kind of smoking material is completely extinguished before being disposed of in a safe manner. I would also like to urge people not to drink and smoke in the house as we approach the Christmas holiday, the combination of the two can be absolutely lethal. It is far safer if people are going to smoke, to do so outside, and extinguish the cigarette in a suitable non-combustible container.

"I would encourage everyone to make sure they have working smoke alarms fitted and to test them regularly, taking a few minutes to do this simple check could save your life and your family’s lives. Also, importantly, think about an escape route should an emergency occur, always have your key to hand and shut all doors to help contain a fire and toxic smoke. Smoke from a fire is highly dangerous and can cause unconsciousness and even death before you are aware that there is a fire in your property. If you can incorporate these steps into your nightly routine, you will provide a good defence for your household if the worst case scenario happens."

The last crew left the scene at 6.18am today.

Anyone concerned about fire safety in their home can book a Home Fire Risk Check by calling the freephone number on 0800 0241 999.

During a HFRC, firefighters or trained technicians visit every room in a resident’s home and look for potential fire hazards. They also speak to people about their everyday behaviour in the home and, using this information, try to identify anything that may increase the risk of a fire.

Escape routes are discussed and planned out so that people know what to do should a fire break out and free smoke alarms can be fitted if necessary. All members of staff carry an identity card. Although checks to the elderly and vulnerable are prioritised, the service is open to everyone.