Firefighters are warning smokers to discard cigarettes carefully after eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters tackled a flat fire on Otto Street in Kennington.
Half of a flat on the first floor of the building was damaged by fire and the remaining part of the property suffered severe smoke and heat damage. Thirteen adults and five children were treated on scene by London Ambulance Service crews.
The Brigade’s Fire Investigators believe the fire was caused by a cigarette being discarded from an upper floor and coming into contact with combustible materials stored on a first floor balcony.
Station Commander Ned Alexander who was at the scene said: “Firefighters have worked exceptionally hard to get this flat fire under control. The first floor flat was damaged by the blaze but crews prevented it from spreading further.
“Around 100 people self evacuated from the building and a number of other residents stayed within their flats.
“Fires caused by smoking materials including cigarettes, roll-ups, cigars and pipes, result in more deaths than any other type of fire. Stub cigarettes out properly and always dispose of them carefully.
“Make sure smoking materials are cold before emptying ashtrays. Preferably wet stubs before throwing them into a bin.”
“The Brigade’s 999 Control Officers took sixty 999 calls in the early stages.”
Firefighters’ smoking safety tips
- It’s safer to smoke outside, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.
- Use proper ashtrays, which can’t tip over and stub cigarettes out properly.
- Never smoke in bed, and avoid smoking on arm chairs and sofas – especially if you think you might fall asleep.
- Take extra care when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
- Don’t balance cigars or cigarettes on the edge of an ashtray, or anything else – they can tip and fall as they burn away and cause a fire.
- Don’t leave lit pipes or cigarettes unattended.
- Always empty ashtrays carefully. Make sure smoking materials are out, cold and preferably wet them before throwing into a bin – never use a wastepaper basket.
- Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach, and buy child resistant lighters.
- Never smoke if you use healthcare equipment like medical oxygen or an air flow pressure relief mattress. If you use paraffin-based emollient creams, ask for non-flammable alternatives instead.
- Consider additional safety measures such as fire retardant bedding or nightwear.