London Fire Brigade

Holy smoke

30 October 2013

An iron caused a fire in a flat in Walworth at the weekend after a family accidentally left it on when they went to church on Sunday, say fire investigators from the London Fire Brigade.

Divine intervention came from a neighbour who spotted the smoke and flames and promptly called 999. Shortly after, a woman and her three young children returned home to find their flat filled with smoke and damaged by fire.
The blaze has led to a warning from firefighters not to leave electrical appliances like irons and hair straighteners switched on when not in use.

Watch Manager Christopher Payton, from the Brigade’s Fire Investigation team, said:

“We believe the family had been ironing their Sunday best, ready for church and somebody forgot to turn it off before they left home.

“The iron was turned to the maximum setting and left on top of the ironing board which then ignited clothing nearby.

“It’s so important to remember to switch off electrical items that aren’t designed to be left on, like irons and hair straighteners. It’s easy for nearby items to catch fire and the results can be devastating.

“The fire damage to the flat wasn’t too bad but the property was uninhabitable due to the smoke damage throughout. Fortunately there was a working smoke alarm fitted in the flat.”

The Brigade was called to the fire, which was on Munton Road in Walworth, at 1313 on Sunday 27 October and the fire was under control by 1358. Four fire engines and 21 firefighters from Southwark, Peckham, Brixton and Dockhead fire stations attended the fire.

Following the blaze, the Brigade issued the following  tips to prevent electrical fires in the home:

• Always use a proper ironing board and turn off the iron after use.
• Make sure the iron is left to cool on a heat resistant surface away from curtains, carpets and anything else that may catch fire.
• Check for signs of loose wiring and faulty plugs or sockets (such as scorch marks or flickering lights) and have any problems you find fixed by an electrician.

Ends

Notes to editors:

For further advice on safety using electrical appliances, visit the Brigade’s website: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/ElectricalEquipment.asp