The mirror that reflected the sunlight.
Compass showing the direction of the sun.
Our firefighters often attend incidents where the sun’s rays have been concentrated by reflective or focussing objects including mirrors, spectacles, paperweights or plastic items and caused flammable objects placed nearby to smoulder and sometimes catch fire.
In East Sussex we have attended around 20 similar incidents in the past four years and it is a common problem seen by other fire and rescue services. These incidents tend to occur in rooms with south facing windows and, paradoxically, are more common in autumn and winter when the sun is lower in the sky.
In this incident, the householder had placed three mirrors on furniture near to a southeast facing window and on the day of the fire had left the house on a bright and sunny autumn afternoon. The positioning of the mirrors concentrated the rays onto clothing that had been placed on the back of a wicker chair causing them to catch fire.
The householders were lucky on this occasion and returned to find the property filled with smoke. Thankfully the fire had not taken hold and damage was restricted to the bedroom, but it could have been much worse had it not been discovered so early, as is illustrated by similar cases on the Black Museum.
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.