House fire caused by sunrays shining through glass paperweight

Thu 1 Oct, 2015

A fire at a house in Stony Stratford yesterday (Wednesday 30 September) started after sunrays were concentrated on to paperwork after passing through a glass paperweight.

Crews from Great Holm and Newport Pagnell were called to the fire, in Ousebank Way, shortly before 3pm. The occupants were alerted after seeing smoke coming from the ground-floor study.

Watch Commander Charlie Turner from Great Holm Fire Station said: “The paperwork was on a desk next to patio doors, and there were three or four glass paperweights on the window sill.

“The sun’s rays were concentrated on to some sheets of paper and they eventually caught fire, filling the study with smoke.”

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put out the fire with buckets of water and cleared the smoke with a fan.

Nationally, a number of house fires - including some that have destroyed homes - have been caused by the effects of sunlight on glass paperweights, make-up and shaving mirrors or decorative “bottle effect” windows. 

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, which is called to one or two every year, highlighted the risk in 2013 using a case study provided by a Hazlemere resident who noticed one of her curtains starting to smoulder.

Charlie said: “We are advising people to take extra care, particularly with glass objects such as paperweights or 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 Fire Risk Check hotline on 01296 744477 or email