Fire chiefs have issued a pre-Christmas warning, reminding householders to take special care with wood burning stoves. They are also urging people to exercise caution when using Christmas lights, candles and when cooking.
The warning about stoves follows two recent incidents in the Garstang area - in one it’s thought heat ignited wood in the wall behind a wood burning stove in a house on Green Lane.
Just hours earlier fire crews had been called to Greenacres Drive, Bowgreave, when wood stacked alongside a stove started to smoulder setting fire alarms off.
Fortunately noone was seriously hurt in either incident, but as Tony Ashworth, station manager at Garstang and Lancaster explained, it could have been very different.
The resident returned just in time to remove the smouldering logs by the woodfire on Greenacres Drive: “If it had been any later that bit of wood would have caught fire. Tony stresses that logs must not be stored directly alongside stoves: “You see in magazines nice logs at the side - logs tend to catch fire!”
In the incident on Green Lane the stove, fitted just a few weeks earlier, radiated heat and the roof and wall were damaged when a piece of woden batten ignited in the wall behind the stove. The fire damaged the wall and roof. The smoke alarm had not worked and the resident was alerted to the damage when she heard water running after flames melted a supply pipe.
Meanwhile across the county the fire service has launched a Safer Together campaign. On Saturday, fire officers will be handing out leaflets in Booths store in Garstang urging members of the public to help prevent fire deaths this Christmas by looking out for older residents and alerting them to the fire safety checks and smoke alarms offered free of charge by the fire service.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Kenny said:“If you have an older relative, friend or neighbour, please check that they have a working smoke alarm. If you can’t check or if they do not have a working smoke alarm, please pass their details on to us so we can book them a free Home Fire Safety Check. It could be the best present that you give this year.”
He continued: “Every year our firefighters attend incidents where elderly people have been living alone and have tragically died in a house fire.
“On Saturday December 21, every available firefighter will be on the streets getting the message out that; “together, we can help make people safer by ensuring they have a working smoke alarm.’
To see where firefighters are going to be on Saturday 21st December you can check the website www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk or the fire service’s Facebook or Twitter pages.
A free Home Fire Safety Check can be arranged for an elderly person by calling 0800 1691125. In Lancashire 90 per cent of people losing their lives at this time of year are older people living alone with no working smoke alarm.