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Oven lined with aluminium foil
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Oven lined with Aluminium foil

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oven 1
Oven housing with charring to base below
oven 2
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oven 3
Showing the base of the oven compartment with foil lining

How this fire happened

Deflected heat from aluminium foil placed on the floor of the oven igniting the kitchen unit below.

The fire originated in the kitchen of the property. A built in electric oven had been turned on to 150 degrees centigrade for approximately fifteen minutes. The base of the oven had been lined with several layers of aluminium foil and after a short time, a fire occurred in the chipboard kitchen unit, underneath the appliance. The tenants smelt smoke and then the smoke detector actuated. They disconnected the electrical supply, evacuated the premises and  called the fire brigade.

It’s not uncommon to leave a baking tray at the bottom of the oven, or to line the base of the oven with aluminium foil, in order to catch oil and grease from items cooking and therefore keep the oven clean. However, if the oven has a heating element within its base, there is a danger that the heat can be reflected down away from the oven compartment and towards the timber oven housing/kitchen unit.

When built in ovens fitted into kitchen units are installed, they should normally have an air gap underneath.   

The effect it had

On this occasion the fire was confined to the kitchen unit below the oven and the appliance itself, but the fire could have been much worse.  Even a relatively small incident such as this can have a significant cost for the clean up and repair, plus the obvious distress to those involved.

Safety message

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oven 4
Manufacturers instructions on oven installation showing the necessary air gap around oven casing

Ovens should be always be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  Always check that any ventilation gap requirements are followed.

In addition to this, be aware that if the oven has an element in the base, the use of aluminium foil or baking trays etc.  to line an oven can deflect the heat back down onto the oven base and affect the wooden kitchen unit possibly leading to fire. 

Always check the user manual (if one is available). Manuals may be available online.

You should also ensure any electrical products are registered with the manufacturer so that in case of any future safety issue being identified that may result in a product recall, you will be notified. If you did not register your appliance when first purchased you can do it now by following the Register My Appliance link provided on this site.

You can also check to see if any of your appliances are currently subject to a product recall by searching on our recall search engines also available via this site.

If you have any doubts about the safety of any appliance – do not use it and contact the supplier or a competent tradesperson to check.

Always ensure that there is a working smoke alarm which is tested regularly and you have a practised emergency plan for you and all the family.

Do you have a similar story?

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.


This case study was contributed by London Fire Brigade
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Latest Update :
07 December 2015
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