Increase in domestic fires in Pontefract leads to advice

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has issued some fire safety advice following an increase in house fires in the Pontefract and Knottingley areas during March and April this year.

In the last five weeks crews have dealt with nine house fires in the area, two of which involved tumble dryers and six related to cooking; these were largely a result of pans being left unattended on the heat. One of these house fires resulted in a family of four being taken to hospital for precautionary check-ups.  

Breakdown of incidents:

  • Tumble dryer fire in an external garage in Pontefract which was extinguished by occupier and made safe by firefighters.
  • A tumble dryer fire in house in Knottlingley had to be dealt with by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus. The house was heavily smoke logged and the family were taken to hospital for precautionary check-up.   

Cooking incidents:

  • A grill pan was left unattended in a house Pontefract which started smoking, leaving the occupier with smoke inhalation and the house smoke logged. The occupier managed to take the grill pan outside until the fire service arrived.
  • A cooking pan was left unattended in a house in Knottingley. Luckily a passing neighbour was alerted by a smoke detector sounding; the neighbour quickly raised the alarm and called the fire service.
  • A flat in Knottingley was smoke damaged due to a pan being left on the cooker. Firefighters were called and the occupier suffered slight smoke inhalation.  
  • A pan was left unattended in a house in Pontefract which started to catch fire. A neighbour saw smoke coming from an open window and raised the alarm. The fire service attended and made the scene safe.
  • A microwave fire in a kitchen in Knottingley smoke logged the property and the occupier suffered smoke inhalation and had to be taken to hospital. Firefighters dealt with the fire and ventilated the property of smoke.
  • A grill pan was left unattended in a house in Pontefract which caused heavy smoke logging and damage to the property. Firefighters entered the house and dealt with the incident and the occupier was taken to hospital for treatment.

Others:

  • A battery charger was left switched on and left for a long period unattended in a house in Pontefract. The charging unit became very hot and ignited items which had been left close to the charger.                                                                       

Station Commander for Pontefract and Featherstone, Ian Stead, said: “It’s vitally important for occupiers to ensure that when cooking and using grill pans that they are not left unattended. Other household electrical appliances should be properly maintained, not be left on for long periods and properly switched off at the socket when not being used.

“Thankfully there were no serious injuries or major damage to the homes, but these fires could have been very serious fires if left any longer.”

Station Commander Stead also offered some advice regarding tumble dryers.

He said: “Tumble dryers should not be left on when you go to bed, or when you leave the property. The filters should be cleaned after every use, and the contents removed after the drying cycle has finished.

“The area around the dryer should be kept clear to aid cooling.

“It’s also essential that all home owners have properly fitted, working smoke detectors which are regularly tested.”

When it comes to cooking safety, there are some top tips everyone should follow:

  • Prevent fat/grease build-up on appliances as this can cause fires.
  • Do not cook whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Never leave cooking unattended, even for a moment.
  • If you have to leave the kitchen take pans off the heat and switch off appliance.
  • Ensure loose clothing does not catch fire whilst cooking.

A working smoke alarm is also vital. To book a free Home Fire Safety Check click here. Alternatively contact your local fire station to make arrangements.