Safety reminder after two fires started by heaters

Sun 7 Dec, 2014



Firefighters are urging people to take care with portable heaters after two homes in High Wycombe were badly damaged in fires yesterday (Saturday 6 December) and two men had to be given oxygen. Both fires were caused because combustible materials had been placed on or too close to the heaters.

The first broke out in a flat above in a shop in Arnison Avenue at about 9.30am after a portable electric heater set fire to clothes being dried. Firefighters from High Wycombe and Beaconsfield put out the fire.

The second, at a house in Micklefield Road (pictured), was discovered at about 7.15pm by a passer-by who managed to get the occupant out shortly before the fire started to develop rapidly. Again, firefighters from High Wycombe and Beaconsfield dealt with the fire.

Last month, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and the charity Electrical Safety First highlighted some of the risks associated with portable electric heaters as part of the national Electrical Fire Safety Week initiative.

Portable heaters have caused 73 deaths, around 1,000 injuries and more than 3,800 fires in the UK in the past five years. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable, with the over-80s making up nearly 40 per cent of the fatalities caused by portable-heater fires last year.

Neil Boustred, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “Heaters should always be positioned at least a metre away from any combustible materials such as paper, curtains, furniture  or clothes, and well away from anything which could knock them over.”

Neil’s other safety tips are:

  • Never leave portable heaters unattended.
  • Never leave them on when sleeping.
  • Regularly inspect your heater for damage. If it’s damaged, don’t use it.
  • Never buy second-hand halogen heaters.
  • Never power a halogen heater from an extension lead – these can easily be overloaded and cause fires.

Electrical Safety First is a charity dedicated to reducing deaths, injury and damage caused by electricity. For more information, please visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk