Firefighters warn smokers of the dangers of smoking indoors after three fatal fires

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning residents about the dangers of smoking at home following a third fatal fire in Cheshire East involving cigarettes since February this year.

The latest fire was on 31 May in the bedroom of a terraced house in Moorhouse Avenue in Alsager. Members of the public rescued an 83-year-old man, and firefighters rescued a 75-year-old woman. The couple were taken to hospital but sadly died days later.

This latest incident followed a living room fire in Congleton in April where a 73-year-old man sadly died, and a fire in a bedroom in Nantwich in February in which an 80-year-old woman and an 82-year-old man sadly died.

A joint investigation between Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and Cheshire Police indicates that, in all three cases, the fire was accidental and caused by a cigarette.

Firefighters and advocates from the service have been out in the communities affected to reassure residents, leafleting properties and offering vital fire safety advice on the doorstep.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s service delivery group manager for Cheshire East, Matt Barlow, said: “Our thoughts remain with their family and friends at this difficult time. Sadly these were all tragic accidents and could have been avoided. If you do smoke, please make sure you do so safely. Never smoke in bed and take extra care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight. Please do not smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol and remember, make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished – put it out, right out.

“If you don’t smoke, but you know someone who does, please spread the message to make sure they are aware of the dangers of smoking in the home. Smoking remains the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home nationally.”

Matt added: “It’s also really important that you have a smoke alarm and that you have an escape route which is free from any obstacles or clutter that may prevent you from safely exiting your property in the event of a fire. Keep your doors and window keys in a known and accessible place and make sure everyone in your household knows what to do in the event of a fire. It is also worth thinking of a second escape route in case the first one is blocked.”

These simple steps can help prevent cigarette and e-cigarette fires in the home:

  • Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight.

  • Never smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape.

  • Put it Out, Right Out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.

  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down.

  • Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn. Never use a wastepaper basket to dispose of a cigarette butt.

  • Keep matches out of children’s reach.

  • Never leave e-cigarettes on charge unattended for long periods of time.

  • Do not mix components of different e-cigarettes.

  • Only use the charger supplied with your device.

  • Ensure you purchase your e-cigarette and charger from a reputable source and check the e-cigarette carries CE certification.

  • Fit a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it weekly. Working smoke alarms can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.

  • Consider installing additional smoke alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas.