London Fire Brigade

Brigade issues candle safety warning after spike in Diwali fires

11 November 2015

We are wishing people across the capital a safe and happy Diwali, as new figures show festival fires last year were at a four year high.
Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights is a five day festival that begins today, Wednesday 11 November, and as part of the celebration people often light small earthenware oil lamps called diyas as well as setting off fireworks.

Highest number of incidents in 2014

We attended 82 fires on the first day of Diwali last year, which was the highest number of incidents attended in the last four years. The number of fires spiked when Diwali fell on 5 November  2010, when the Brigade attended 175 fires.

Last year, firefighters rescued an elderly woman from a flat fire in Newham, which investigators believe was caused by a candle that had been left to burn on the edge of the bath, as part of Diwali celebrations. Part of the bathroom was damaged in the blaze.

London Fire Brigade Director of Operations Dave Brown said:

“We want every to enjoy Diwali but would like to remind people that candles, oil lamps and fireworks all post serious fire risks.

“Candles look attractive but they are one of the most common causes of fire. These fires can cause injuries and can even be fatal, so please take care during Diwali celebrations.”

Diwali fire safety advice

We have some simple fire safety advice for Diwali:

• All candles, including tea lights, should be put on a heat resistant surface.
• Keep candles and matches out of the reach of children.
• Keep candles away from draughts and from anything that can catch fire, like curtains, furniture or loose clothing.
• Special care should be taken with homemade, decorated candles and diya lamps.
• Ensure fireworks come from a reputable supplier and comply with the British Standard. Always follow the instructions found on each firework and follow the Firework Safety Code.
• Never leave cooking unattended.
• If a fire does break out get everyone out, stay out and call 999. Never go back into the property to collect belongings.
• Get a smoke alarm if you’ve not already got one and test it weekly to make sure it works. It will buy you precious time to escape if a fire does break out.