Tunbridge Wells firefighters are urging residents to think twice when it comes to tackling electrical fires. The warning comes following two fires in the town involving electrics where home owners placed their lives in extreme danger.
The first fire was at a property in Birling Road. A resident was alerted to a fire in the main electrical intake under the stairs of his home on Wednesday (14 October), thanks to a smoke alarm sounding.
The fire had spread up the wall and along the electrical cabling.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire was out but crews have expressed their concern over the resident’s actions in tackling the blaze.
Watch Manager Mark Havell said: "On discovery of the fire, it appears that the man attempted to put it out by placing a wet towel over the live electrics, which was extremely dangerous. He is lucky to be alive and to not have electrocuted himself."
Firefighters isolated the electrical supply at the fuse box and removed the main fuse using electrical gloves and used a thermal imaging camera to scan the area for any fire spread. Crews made the scene safe and remained on the scene to give the resident some safety advice.
The crew is now warning all residents that electrical fires need to be treated with extreme caution.
Mark said: "If you discover a fire that involves electricity, do not attempt to deal with it yourself or put water on it under any circumstances. Leave the property as soon as you can and try to isolate the electrical supply, only if safe to do so, on your way out and call 999 for Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) straight away.
"We would also advise you to close internal doors as you leave the premises as this will help contain the fire and reduce the damage to your home."
This incident follows another fire involving electrics in Tunbridge Wells late last month.
Crews were called to Eastlands on 26 September after a resident ruptured a domestic gas pipe with live electric wiring after attempting to repair some electrics in his kitchen. This caused an explosion which caused fire damage to the kitchen and burst water pipes that flooded the property.
Mark said: "Unfortunately, the resident also tried to fight the fire himself, putting himself at serious risk and he suffered burns to his hands in the process. We would strongly advise residents to make themselves aware of the dangers around fire and electricity. I would also recommend that you always use a qualified electrician to carry out any electrical maintenance or repairs."
Tunbridge Wells fire crews will be out and about in the local area ahead of Electrical Safety Week (9-15 November) offering further electrical safety advice to residents.
For more fire safety advice visit http://www.kent.fire-uk.org/your-safety/home-safety/, email home@kent,fire-uk.org or call KFRS on 0800 293 7000.