Fire caused by sunlight on mirror

Thu 17 Oct, 2013

Sunlight reflecting off the magnifying side of a make-up mirror caused a fire at a house in Chesham Bois this afternoon.

Crews from Amersham and Chesham were called to the incident, in Amersham Road, shortly after 1pm. There was no-one in the house at the time, but a neighbour called 999 after smelling smoke.

Watch Manager Sam Sansom, from Amersham Fire Station, said: "The mirror was on a dressing table near a bedroom window, with the magnifying side facing the window.

"It concentrated the sunlight on to the curtains, which caught fire and dropped on to the carpet and into a waste paper bin.

"The fire must have been going for some time, as it had burnt through to the floorboards and caused deep charring to the joists."

Firefighters cut away and removed the burnt materials and ventilated the house. The bedroom was about 20 per cent damaged by fire and 70 per cent damaged by smoke.

Nationally, a number of house fires - including some that have destroyed homes - have been caused by the effects of sunlight on make-up and shaving mirrors or decorative “bottle effect” windows. Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has been called to six of these fires over the past three years.

Firefighters highlighted the risk in July this year using a case study provided by a Hazlemere resident who noticed one of her curtains starting to smoulder. Click here to see the report.

Neil Boustred, who heads Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “We are advising people to take extra care, particularly with mirrors which have a magnified side.

"Keep them out of contact with direct sunlight, and never put them on or near window sills."

If you would like a free assessment of the fire risks in your home, and free smoke alarms where necessary, ring the home safety check hotline on 01296 744477, email or view our Book a Free Home Safety Check page.