News release text
A discarded cigarette is believed to be responsible for destroying a garden shed and damaging two houses in Birchington last night – leading to renewed calls by firefighters to heed vital safety warnings.
The incident in Westfield Road at 10.30pm (Tuesday 18 March) comes just a day after Margate crews teamed up with other agencies to highlight the dangers of smoking to people’s health and homes.
Yesterday’s incident was discovered when the resident looked out of her kitchen window and saw her garden shed was alight. She realised it was spreading towards her home and immediately phoned 999; fire control staff advised her to get herself and her three young children out of her house to safety.
Two fire engines were sent to the property and firefighters in breathing apparatus used two hose reels and a main jet to put the fire out, which was breaking through into the kitchen.
Margate Watch Manager, Craig Newman, said: “The fire is thought to have started after the resident had been smoking in her back garden and not stubbed the cigarette out completely before discarding it.
“Smokers need to be aware of the fire risks of smoking, tobacco burns at very high temperatures – it’s designed to stay lit. That’s why cigarettes can so quickly start a fire. It’s vital that when you put it out, you make sure it really is out.”
The fire destroyed the garden shed, melted the guttering on a neighbouring property and caused damage to the roof and garden furniture. A LPG cylinder stored in the shed was also involved in the fire causing it to explode.
Margate Gateway No Smoking EventMargate firefighters have been campaigning in the area recently to highlight the dangers of discarded smoking materials; over the past week, they have joined colleagues from the Margate Task Force and the NHS Stop Smoking team at the Margate Gateway to offer free fire safety advice and urge all smokers to think seriously about quitting and not just because of the long term health risks. Also at the event was a team from Your Leisure who were helping to promote the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
Each year, there are around 150 fires in Kent and Medway started by cigarettes and smoking materials. Fires in the home caused by careless smoking often result in serious injury and can be fatal. Victims also suffer damage to their homes and cherished belongings.
Crew Manager Joe Bathurst said: “The event helped to generate a number of home safety visits and stop smoking team referrals. While we can’t ask you not to smoke, we can ask you to smoke more safely and would urge smokers who are not ready to give up to follow our safety tips.”
Get more fire safety advice by calling Kent Fire and Rescue Service for free on 0800 924 7000..
Photo shows: (L-R): Crew Manager Joe Bathurst and Watch Manager Andy Bigginton (KFRS), Kate Cook (NHS Stop Smoking Service), Ben Journo and Owen Browne (fitness instructors from Your Leisure).