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Electric heater accidently switched on
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Fire cause by an electric heater being accidently switched on

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Switch in the on position caused by the heater being pushed against it.

Switch in the on position caused by the heater being pushed against it.

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General image of the heater and some remains from the stored bags of clothing in the bedroom cupboard.

General image of the heater and some remains from the stored bags of clothing in the bedroom cupboard.

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Extensive damage to the bedroom where the fire started

Extensive damage to the bedroom where the fire started

How this fire happened

This fire was caused by the occupant of a bedroom accidentally causing an electric bar type heater to be switched on, when they placed some bin liners of clothing in a bedroom cupboard - forcing the heater body against the switch.

The clothing acted as insulation, which caused heat to build up over a period of time, before eventually starting a serious fire in the early hours of the morning when the room's occupant and others in the building were asleep.

Fortunately the room where the fire started had a working smoke alarm, which caused the fire alarm to be sounded throughout the property. This allowed the occupant of the room and others in the building to escape unhurt.

The door to the bedroom where the fire started was shut and because of its substantial construction and the fitting of intumescing strips and cold smoke seals, it prevented any fire spread to the remainder of the property.

The occupant of the bedroom where the fire started had smelt burning a number of hours before the fire started - but unfortunately did not call the Fire & Rescue Service to investigate at that time.

The effect it had

"What was so shocking about the fire was the speed in which it took hold and how damaging the effects were. It went from a smoke filled room, to a fire so hot that it melted the television and blew out the windows in a matter of minutes.

"We are thankful that we had adequate smoke detectors and fire alarms to raise the alarm to other residents, also that the fire door contained the fire in that one room keeping the rest of the house and its occupants safe until the Fire Service were able to deal with the blaze."

Safety message

"Smoke alarms save lives" is a well-known slogan - which in this example has been proved, as Fire Officers attending this incident are convinced that the outcome of this fire could have been very different if there was no working smoke detector. It is also very important to ensure smoke alarms are regularly tested.

Any door (if shut!) can help to hold back a fire and you should as part of a bedtime routine make sure that doors are shut at night and also if you leave the property.

If your property requires, through legislation, that certain doors are installed as fire resisting and self-closing it is important to ensure that the doors include intumescing* strips and smoke seals.

If you smell burning in your property that cannot be explained - please call the Fire & Rescue Service - who have equipment that can help detect any possible sources of heat.

Remember that East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service carry out free Home Safety Checks.

If the building is subject to the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - then an assessment of risks and suitable protective and preventative measures required should be undertaken and this risk assessment is the responsibility of the "Responsible Person".

Further information on legislative requirements is available in our Business Safety section.

*Intumescing

Swelling under the influence of heat i.e. in order to provide a seal to reduce fire/smoke spread.

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Intumescing strip on bedroom door has expanded due to hot fire gases and has helped to prevent smoke spread throughout the property.
Intumescing strip on bedroom door has expanded due to hot fire gases and has helped to prevent smoke spread throughout the property.

Further information

Do you have a similar story?

Finally, we would be interested to hear from you if you have had a similar experience to the fire detailed above, or would like to raise any related matters or even just generally comment on how useful you found our Black Museum.

Please send us your details and a comments via our on-line feedback form.

Acknowledgement

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Latest Update :
30 January 2015
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