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Hair straighteners
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Unattended hair straighteners

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Burnt out hair straighteners, the cause of the fire

Burnt out hair straighteners, the cause of the fire

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This door remained closed holding back the fire

This door remained closed holding back the fire

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The whole room suffered severe smoke damage

The whole room suffered severe smoke damage

How this fire happened

Electric hair straighteners were left unattended and switched on, leading to smouldering ignition of clothing laid on the floor in front of a wardrobe and the laminate flooring itself.

This progressed to a flaming fire, igniting the contents of an adjacent wardrobe.

The occupier was distracted whilst using the hair straighteners.

It was early in the morning the householder was dressed only in a gown whilst she did her hair, when she was unexpectedly called to the front door.

She was expecting a tradesman that morning – and he had arrived very early.

The householder asked the tradesman to return in half an hour, and then set about dressing.

This distracted the lady and the hair straighteners were left switched on and resting on clothing on the floor of the dressing room.

The tradesman stayed for half an hour and then left the property. The victim also left the property a couple of hours later, still leaving the forgotten hair straighteners on.

Later, she received a call on her mobile telephone from a neighbour; who, on hearing the property's smoke alarm actuating, had entered the building, smelled smoke, taken the pet dog outside and called 999 for the fire service.

The victim returned to her house to find the fire service there.

The effect it had

I am amazed at the damage caused by the fire and the fact I neither heard, nor smelled anything prior leaving the property. The hair straighteners are my daughter's property and I had repeatedly told my daughter to be careful when using them. It is ironic that the fire had occurred when I was using them!

The fire was devastating and I have lost all my clothes and have had to go out and buy everything new to wear. I was however also amazed that the closed door to the bedroom held the fire back as long as it did. I am thankful that my neighbour had not opened the door to the bedroom when she smelled smoke but that she followed fire service advice to leave the building and call 999.

I thought fires were fire, not smoke...When you see a bonfire it's flames with a little bit of smoke, however the reality is that in a house fire smoke will do a lot of damage.

The next day I felt extremely lost, I felt quite heavy, I felt like somebody was just pushing me down and I was walking from room to room; I had a feeling of fear, I had a feeling of like I'd done something wrong, like I'd let my family down.

Safety message

As with all electrical goods, hair straighteners should be used in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.

Ideally they should not be left unattended when switched on, but if they are then care should be taken to ensure they are not left in contact with flammable materials.

Purpose designed safety devices such as heat resistant mats or covers are also available.

Hair straighteners can heat to approximately 220C and retain that heat for a considerable time after being switched off.

More than sufficient to start a smouldering fire in combustible materials. After use, these devices should therefore be left in a safe location away from flammable materials.

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

This case study was contributed by:

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Latest Update :
30 January 2015
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