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Safety advice offered after overheated laptop on bed starts house fire

The Fire Service is offering advice to the public after an overheated laptop on a bed started a house fire in the Paddock area of Huddersfield.

The fire started in a conservatory attached to the rear of a mid-terrace property in Luck Lane. The conservatory was being used as a bedroom.

The fire caused serious damage to the roof of the house and spread to the roof space of the two adjoining properties.

Fortunately no-one was in any of the affected properties at the time.

People passing by saw the thick black smoke and the Fire Service Control Room received numerous 999 calls at around 12.30pm on Tuesday, May 24.

Crews from Huddersfield, Slaithwaite, Dewsbury and Halifax attended and tackled the fire, preventing further spread to other houses in the street.

Following the blaze a Fire Investigation Officer attended to determine the cause.

Fire Investigation Officer Ian Firth said: “We have concluded that the most likely cause of the fire was that it started as a result of a laptop being left on a bed within the conservatory.

“The bedding material would have limited the ventilation which is required to ensure the laptop doesn’t overheat.

“If a laptop is placed on anything that prevents cool air circulation through it, the device can overheat and ignite surrounding combustible items.  Our advice would be to use laptops on a solid flat surface which allows the cooling system to operate properly.”

There was no indication of a fault on the laptop itself.

Top tips

Signs your laptop is overheating:

  • Your fan always runs at maximum speed
  • You experience reduced performance because the Central Processing Unit reduces its clock speed in an attempt to reduce heat output
  • Frequent and sudden shutdowns to prevent hardware damage

Always use your laptop on a hard, flat surface

The majority of laptops draw cooling air in through ventilation grills on their underside. If the laptop sits on an uneven, soft surface like a blanket, pillow, duvet or your lap, the flow of air into the laptop is inhibited. Subsequently, the cooling is reduced, heat builds up, the surface becomes hot and eventually the laptop overheats.

This scenario is easily avoided by keeping the laptop on a hard and flat surface. You can use something as simple as a tray or get a special laptop holder or lap stand.

Always turn off the laptop when not in use