London Fire Brigade

Firefighters wheat bag warning after woman left hospitalised

29 July 2015

Firefighters are warning about the dangers of wheat bags being overheated or left unattended after one caused a recent fire on Whitton Avenue West in Greenford.

An elderly woman was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation after a hot wheat bag caught alight her bedding in the ground floor flat.

Fortunately the woman’s smoke alarm alerted her to the fire before the blaze escalated and enabled her to get out before firefighters arrived.

Fire crews from Northolt Fire Station arrived on the scene 1744 and the fire was under control at 1748. They used a small amount of water to contain the fire.

Northolt Fire Station Manager Charlie Hanks said:

“This incident not only shows how dangerous wheat bags can be but also how important it is to have a smoke alarm installed. This situation could have quickly escalated and have been fatal if the woman had been asleep in bed with the bag.

“Wheat bags can continue to build heat once removed from the microwave and start to smoulder; when in contact with bedding a fire can spread quickly.”

Wheat bags are becoming increasingly popular, especially among the elderly and children but can be dangerous if not used properly. The Brigade is urging users to always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and to ensure a wheat bag is not heated in a microwave for too long, or at too high a temperature and is not left unattended at any time.