Cigarette discarded outside house starts fire inside it

Tue 4 Apr, 2017


A house in Milton Keynes was damaged early this morning after a smouldering cigarette end which was discarded outside it set fire to rubbish. The flames spread through an air brick and set fire to the back of a wooden cabinet in the dining room.

Crews from Great Holm, Bletchley, Broughton and Buckingham were called to the fire, in Roveley Court, Galley Hill, at 12.20am. They used hose reels to put out the fire, and a fan to clear away smoke from inside the house.

There were no working smoke alarms in the house, but fortunately the occupants were alerted by a neighbour.

This morning's fire comes just three days after a flat in Conniburrow, Milton Keynes, was severely damaged after a cigarette was left burning in a bedroom.

Richard Priest, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service's community safety team, said: "This month, as part of a national campaign, we have been reminding people of the dangers of fires caused by cigarettes which haven't been put out properly.

"A third of all deaths in fires in the home are caused by cigarettes. Despite a fall in the overall number of fires caused as a result of people smoking, it’s still the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home across the country. Every six days, someone dies from a fire caused by cigarettes or smoking materials.

"Even fires like this one, which started outside after the smoker thought he had put the cigarette out with his foot, can spread to people's homes and put their lives and property at risk."

Over the last five years (the calendar years 2012 to 2016) there have been 78 smoking-related fires in Buckinghamshire and 75 in Milton Keynes. The fires led to two deaths in Buckinghamshire and three in Milton Keynes.

Firefighters will be returning to Galley Hill this week to offer safety checks and fire safety advice to residents.

Richard offered the following safety tips:

  • Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended. They can easily overbalance.
  • Never smoke in bed, and take care when you’re tired. If you need to lie down, don’t light up.
  • Put out cigarettes carefully and dispose of them thoughtfully when outdoors or driving. Don't flick them out of cars.
  • Counterfeit cigarettes pose an even bigger fire risk than genuine ones as, once lit, they don't self-extinguish when they are not actively being smoked. This increases the fire risk if they are dropped, left burning in an ashtray or if the smoker falls asleep.
  • If you smoke in the garden, use a sand-filled pot as an outdoor ashtray, and empty it regularly.
  • Use child-resistant lighters and matchboxes, and keep them where children can't reach them.
  • Tap your ash into a proper ashtray, never a wastebasket containing other rubbish - and don't let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol when smoking. It’s easy to lose your concentration and this could be lethal when combined with smoking.
  • Fit a smoke alarm and test it weekly or monthly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service will carry out free safety check to identify potential fire risks in your home, advise what to do to reduce or prevent them and fit free smoke alarms if required. Ring 01296 744477 or email cs@bucksfire.gov.uk to book one of these visits.