Serious fire sparks candle safety warning from fire service

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is issuing a candle safety warning following a serious fire in Robertsbridge this week.

Five appliances from Battle, Burwash and Hastings, including the Aerial Ladder Platform, were mobilised to Northbridge Street, in Robertsbridge, at 23.03 following reports of a ground-floor bedroom fire in a two-story property.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus tackled the accidental fire, using hose reel jets. Everyone was accounted for and the Fire Victim Support Unit was requested to attend the incident and alternative accommodation was found for the occupants.

Following a fire investigation the cause was found to be attributed to an unattended candle.

Crew Commander Wilson who attended the incident said:

“Last night was an example of the devastation that a small candle can create when left unattended.
“Thankfully, quick-thinking by the occupants and the small action of closing the door to the bedroom containing the fire saved the property from complete devastation.

“Fire crews wearing breathing apparatus were able to extinguish the fire using two hose reel jets. We would advise all members of the public to take extra care when using candles and regularly check that their smoke alarms are fully operational.”

Recently, East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service issued a fire safety warning after reported figures illustrated that incidents involving candles and matches have increased by a massive 55 per cent in the past year across the Service area.

The number of fires attended between January 2015 to 2016 increased from 20 to 31, sparking concerns that residents could be more aware of the dangers around the use of candles in the home.

Therefore, the extent of the damage caused be a seemingly harmless candle has been caught on camera by crews attending the fire to highlight the importance of following fire Service safety advice when using candles.

Head of ESFRS Community Safety team, David Kemp, has this message for anyone wanting to use candles in the home:

“What may seem a harmless ambient addition to your home, if left unattended, can result in a serious house fire, resulting in property damage, personal injury or even worse.

“We can’t stress enough how important it is to follow safety advice to avoid becoming a statistic.
“Some people are unaware that if you do not place a candle in a heat-resistant holder and on a stable surface that the heat can quickly burn through plastic, or other material, creating a fire which could quickly become out of control.

“Also, if a naked flame is placed too close to curtains or home furnishings then a fire can quickly take hold and rapidly spread throughout a home. It is especially important to make plans for situations where power to your home might be temporarily lost. Whilst candles might seem the easiest option, there are safer options to manage light through a power cut by, for example, considering the use of battery powered lights and torches.


“It is so important to remember to extinguish candles when nobody is in the room, or when going to bed to ensure they have been fully extinguished. Also, it is imperative to fit a working smoke alarm to give you the best chance of escaping should there be a fire in the home.”

Candles, decorations and decorative lights have been a growing cause of fires but there are many ways in which you can safeguard yourself and your home against the dangers by reducing risk.
Lighted candles – where to put them

You should take care where you decide to put candles in your home. Candles are best placed:
On a heat-resistant surface – be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic.

  • In a proper candle holder, so they don’t fall over.
    Out of the reach of children and pets.
    Out of draughts and away from curtains, other fabrics or furniture, which could catch fire.
    With at least 1 metre (3 feet) between the candle and any surface above it.
    With at least 10 centimetres (4 inches) between any two candles.
    Away from clothes and hair – if there’s any chance you could forget where a candle is and lean across it, put it somewhere else.
    Make sure you put out candles before moving them and don’t let anything fall into the hot wax, like matchsticks.
    Putting candles out
    Never leave a candle unattended. Make sure you:
    Put out candles before you leave a room and before you go to bed.
    Never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child’s bedroom.
    Use a snuffer or a spoon to put them out – blowing them can send sparks and hot wax flying.
    Double-check that they are completely out and not still smouldering.

Please follow this safety advice and to find out further information please visit their candle safety pages.

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