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Man escapes fire caused by cigarette

A man had a lucky escape from a fire in his home after a cigarette started a fire on his sofa in Reading.

Firefighters from Caversham Road and Wokingham Road fire stations were called to reports of a fire at a flat on Patriot Place at 2.51am on Monday, 3 April.

On arrival, they discovered found a sofa alight in the lounge of the property.

Crews acted swiftly – two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel to put the fire out before the blaze spread.

The man who lives there had already escaped the fire safely before firefighters arrived, after he had unsuccessfully attempted to tackle the flames himself. In the case of fire, RBFRS advice is to get out, stay out and call 999.

It was discovered that the fire had been started by a cigarette. The man’s sofa and carpet were badly damaged in the fire but crews managed to stop the fire from spreading to the rest of the property.

RBFRS statistics show that careless use or disposal of smoking materials is the highest single cause of fire (60 per cent) in accidental fire deaths.

This included people smoking in bed or not taking care after drinking alcohol.

Additionally, when smokers fall asleep with a lit cigarette, their proximity to a resulting fire often means that they are less likely to be in a position to escape safely.

Cigarettes burn at approximately 700ºC and if they remain smouldering they can start a fire.

Please follow these simple steps to help prevent a smoking-related fire in your home:

  • Put it out, right out. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.
  • Never smoke in bed. Be careful when you’re tired, it’s very easy to fall asleep with a cigarette still burning which could, in turn, set bedding and furniture alight.
  • Never smoke while under the influence of alcohol or taking medication. This can affect your ability to escape if a fire starts.
  • If you use e-cigarettes, only user the approved charger. Cheaper chargers may not meet UK safety standards or be compatible with your device.
  • Use an ashtray which is suitable, that won’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn.
  • Keep lighters, matches and smoking materials out of the reach of children.
  • Fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test the batteries weekly.

Iain Harrison, Group Manager for Prevention, said: “More people die in fires caused by smoking, than in fires caused by anything else. If you’re a smoker, make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished after use, to ensure that you don’t end up as another statistic.”

Councillor Christine Bateson, Community Safety Member Champion, said: “One of the Fire Authority’s central objectives is to help build safer communities in Berkshire, and as part of this we assess all foreseeable fire and rescue related risk. From the statistics smoking is evidently a high risk and we’re hoping this advice will go some way to improving community safety.”

For information on stopping smoking, please visit SmokeFreeLife Berkshire’s website: here.