Fire caused by an overheated wheatbag
Microwave oven damaged when a wheat bag was over heated.
A wheat bag that was left too long in a microwave oven.
How this fire happened
A "wheat bag" that had been left in a microwave for longer than the manufacturers recommended time caused this fire.
Wheat bags are sold in many shapes, sizes and guises from simple pads to toys and even pet beds. They are designed to be heated in a microwave oven, so that like a hot water bottle, they will slowly release their heat over a long period of time.
Wheat bags are often used as pain relief and as well as being heated can be chilled in a freezer to provide a "Cold Pack".
If used in accordance with manufacturers instructions they are completely safe, however if they are left in the microwave for longer than recommended and/or on too high a power setting they can overheat, which in some circumstances may lead to fire.
This fire can start whilst in the microwave or some time later when the wheat bag could have been placed into a bed or elsewhere.
The effect it had
I had put the bag into the microwave, then went into the lounge while it was heating up.
I was first alerted to a problem by my Lifeline System, an operative warned me (via. their call box) to leave the house immediately.
As I passed the kitchen door I opened it to see what was happening. I now realise that this was the wrong thing to do, as thick acrid smoke billowed out, making me choke.
I quickly shut the door and left the house and waited for the Fire Brigade to arrive. They needed to use breathing apparatus to enter the house but quickly removed the microwave and wheat bag.
The house was full of smoke but I was lucky that no real damage was done. The kitchen though required a thorough clean and the whole house had a nasty smell which took several weeks to go.
I was extremely grateful for the swift action of the Fire Brigade and thankful for my Lifeline.
Like any product, wheat bags should only be used in accordance with manufacturers instructions and must not be placed in a microwave at either too high a power setting and / or for too long a time.
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Latest Update : 30 January 2015