Smoke alarm and neighbour help prevent fire

Thu 15 Oct, 2015

A smoke alarm prevented a potentially serious fire from breaking out at a house in Beaconsfield yesterday afternoon, even though there was no-one at home.

A quick-thinking neighbour rang 999 after hearing the alarm, which was activated by a candle left burning unattended, and removing a dog and parrot from the house.

Firefighters from Beaconsfield and Amersham were called to an address in Hide Green at 3.49pm, and used a fan to clear the smoke.

Watch Commander Pete Skinner from Beaconsfield Fire Station said: “A tea light candle had been left burning under a glass dish containing what we believe was scented wax.

“The tea light had been placed on top of an upturned tea light, so the flame was quite close to the dish. It had started to blacken the underside of the dish, creating enough smoke to set off the smoke alarm.

“Because there was a working smoke alarm, and the neighbour heard it and took action, there was only light smoke damage to the lounge.

“If it had been allowed to burn for a longer period of time, the outcome could have been quite different.”

Pete's top candle safety tips are:

  • Never leave lit candles unattended. Put burning candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re out completely at night.
  • Place your candles carefully. Make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from flammable objects such as curtains, furniture, bedding and books.
  • Do not move candles once they are lit.
  • Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare.
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot and dripping.
  • Put candles out with a snuffer or a spoon. Sparks can fly if you blow them out.
  • Always put scented candles in a heat-resistant holder. These candles are designed to turn to liquid when heated to maximise fragrance.
  • Fit smoke alarms and test them regularly. Working smoke alarms can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if a fire should occur. Practise your escape route.
  • Click here for a candle safety poster.

  • Picture shows (left) the blackened dish and (right) the tea light on top of an upturned tea light.