London Fire Brigade

Joss stick warning after six children injured at Christmas Day blaze

26 December 2012

The London Fire Brigade said today (Boxing Day) it believes a Christmas Day blaze, from which firefighters rescued six young children, was caused by a joss stick.

The Brigade was first called to the fire, which was on Clifton Road in Southall, west London, at 1953 on Christmas Day.

It is thought the children were all under the age of ten. All six, along with a man and woman, thought to be the parents of the children, were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. It is thought the woman also sustained some injuries having jumped from a first floor window.

The Brigade’s fire investigators believe the fire started accidentally and is likely to have been caused by a joss stick which was left too close to clothing which ignited.

A Brigade spokesperson said:

“Lots of people use candles and joss sticks at Christmastime which is a concern for the fire service as they can  be lethal if not used carefully. Many people think joss sticks are harmless, but they could quite easily have led to a major tragedy on Christmas Day for this family.

“If you’re lighting candles and joss sticks over the festive period you should always make sure they’re placed well away from anything that could catch fire and make sure you put them out if you leave a room or pop out.”

Following  the fire, London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner, Dany Cotton said :

“The firefighters acted extremely quickly and pitched two ladders at the rear of the house and rescued six children from the first floor. The crews worked incredibly hard to get the young children out of the severe fire.”

It has emerged today that shortly after the children were rescued, the fire spread from the ground floor of the property up to the first floor. Firefighters believe the children may not have survived had it not been for the quick-thinking actions of their colleagues who rushed in to rescue them.

A Brigade spokesperson said:

“These crews really have done something rather special. There are six children alive today that certainly wouldn’t have been if our crews hadn’t acted so quickly.”

Once the children had been rescued, fire crews assisted paramedics and doctors from London’s Air Ambulance in giving them all medical care and first aid.

It is thought that there was no working smoke alarm inside the home and the Brigade said the fire should serve as a reminder about how important they are.

Half of the ground floor and part of the first floor of the house, which is on Clifton Road in Southall, was damaged by the blaze. Four fire engines from Southall and Hayes fire stations, and 20 red watch firefighters attended the incident.

The Brigade was called at 1953 and the fire was under control by 2059.