Firefighters have issued a safety warning in the wake of a severe house fire in Tunstall which was caused by carelessly discarded smoking materials.
"I cannot stress strongly enough the risk that you face if you do not fully extinguish your cigarette and leave it to smoulder. It is far safer if people are going to smoke, to do so outside, and extinguish the cigarette in a suitable non-combustible container."
Station Manager Ian Read
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.
Fire Control received a call about the blaze on Nash Peake Street at 10.42am yesterday.
It is thought that a male occupant had dropped a lit cigarette end on the settee in the living room before going upstairs to sleep.
He was alerted to the incident when his smoke alarms activated. When he awoke, his bedroom was filled with smoke so he smashed the window with a speaker in order to let some air in and attract attention.
The noise alerted a neighbour to the situation and they called 999. The male then made his way downstairs and firefighters, who arrived at 10.47am, were able to pull him from the house.
One crew from Newcastle and one from Sandyford tackled the fire which caused severe smoke damage to the property. They wore two breathing apparatus and used one hose reel jet to extinguish the blaze before ventilating the house with a large scale fan. Firefighters left the scene at 12.39pm.
Between January 1 2010 and December 31 2014 there were 366 residential blazes related to smoking paraphernalia in the north of the county, with eight people sadly losing their lives as a result.
Station Manager Ian Read, who was at the incident, said: "This man had a very lucky escape – the situation could easily have had far more serious consequences if he had not heard the smoke alarms and if his neighbour had not acted swiftly by calling 999.
"I cannot stress strongly enough the risk that you face if you do not fully extinguish your cigarette and leave it to smoulder. 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. Following these simple steps will provide a good defence for your household if the worst case scenario happens."