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Last updated: 09/07/2018, 6:17 PM

Animal arsonists and magic spells: London's weirdest causes of fire

26/12/2013 00:00
Safety warnings

London Fire Brigade fire investigators have revealed some of the weird and wonderful causes of the blazes they attend in a bid to highlight the importance of fire safety.
Every year the Brigade’s 25 strong fire investigation team gets called to establish how around 2,000 fires in the capital start.  ‘Animal arsonists,’ magic spells, crystal balls and deodorant drenched teenagers have all featured in investigations over the years but in all these cases the resulting fire could usually have been avoided with a bit of fire safety savvy.
London’s investigators have released a list of the strangest fires they have attended, they are:
1.   The Lynx effect: a teenage boy going on his first date sprayed a can of deodorant on himself and then decided to light what remained in the aerosol can. The gases ignited and there was an explosion. Thankfully the boy wasn’t badly injured but he missed his date!
2.   Just like that! A magic spell bought over the internet used for ‘healing purposes’ involved lighting some incense candles. These were left unattended and caused the occupant’s flat to catch fire.
3.   Microwaved loo roll: A fire started after someone  tried to dry out the toilet roll they had dropped down the loo by popping it in the microwave for a few minutes.
4.   Animal arsonist 1: A dog hit the controls of a toaster with its paws as it leapt onto a kitchen worktop to reach some food. Bread left in a bag on top of the toaster caught fire. The kitchen was damaged but the dog survived.
5.   Should have seen it coming! The sun’s rays reflecting off a crystal ball caused nearby curtains to ignite.
6.   Animal arsonist 2: A mouse got into the back of a fridge freezer and shorted the electrics causing a blaze.
7.   Pants fire: A man using a pair of boxer shorts to vigorously apply linseed oil to a floor caused the pants to overheat and a fire to start.
8.   Bog roll blaze: A man used a toilet roll as a candle holder. He left the candle unattended and the candle set fire to the toilet roll. Fire investigators found a toilet roll shaped pile of ash on top of the bathroom cabinet. There was a pool of wax underneath the ash.
9.   Animal arsonist 3: A pigeon dropped a discarded lit cigarette down a chimney which had been blocked up. Causing a fire to start in a bird’s nest
10. Gardener’s World (of pain): Dried out potting compost  left unattended in a basement room over winter ignited after a bacterial reaction heated up the compost causing the room to catch fire.
Station Manager Charlie Pugsley from the Brigade’s Fire Investigation Team said: “There’s never a dull moment in the fire investigation team and in my nine years as a fire investigator I’ve seen some weird and wonderful things.
“On one occasion it even turned out that the family dog had started the fire by pawing at the cooker, inadvertently turning the gas on and setting light to food left on the hob. Usually though, even in the strangest of cases, these fires could have been prevented by using a bit of common sense and taking simple fire safety precautions.”
Top tips for preventing fires – strange or otherwise:
•   Make sure kitchen surfaces and cookers are clear of food and other items that can easily catch fire
•   Keep mirrors and glass items which reflect the sun’s rays are kept away from flammable objects
•   Never  leave candles unattended 
•   Keep pets away from naked flames or cooker controls
•   Don’t use microwaves or ovens to dry out clothes or other items
For more fire safety advice visit  the London Fire Brigade website
For more fire safety advice visit  the London Fire Brigade website