Half of fatal house fires caused by dropped cigarettes or smoking materials

More than half of all recent fatal house fires in West Yorkshire were caused by dropped cigarettes or other smoking materials.

A recent review of fatal house fires by West Yorkshire Fire Service found that of the 53 people to have died in accidental house fires in the last five years, 27 had died in fires started by smoking materials.

Firefighters

Firefighters

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Other common factors in the recent fatal fires were found to be mental health issues and age.

And over two third lived alone at the time of the fire.

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The service has recently carried out a review of all accidental fatal house fires that took place in the county between 2012 and 2017.

The report found that of the 53 people who died in house fires, 64 per cent lived alone, 50 per cent were over the age of 55 and 55 per cent were smokers. Smoking materials was found to be the cause in 27 out of the 53 cases (51 per cent) and nine people died from fires caused by cooking.

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The findings also show that fatal house fires are more likely to happen in deprived areas, and 62 per cent happened in properties described as terraced housing or flat/bedsit.

Thirty two per cent of fatal house fires start in the bedroom, and 38 per cent start in the living room.

By studying the incidents, the service found that in most cases there was more than one “risk factor,” including smoking, old age, impairment or “poor housekeeping.”

The report says: “Smoking materials caused much fewer dwelling fires (558 which equates to nine per cent) yet resulted in significantly more fatalities compared to any other cause. The key prevention message is around the danger of falling asleep whilst smoking.

“Whilst national and local prevention campaigns have focussed on preventing fires caused by carelessly discarded cigarettes, smoking materials were still the most common cause of ignition.”

Other fatal fires were caused by electrical faults or by naked flames, such as candles.

Of the victims, 24 were known to other agencies such as social services or charities. Nine of those 24 did have some interaction with the fire service and received some interventions, such as home safety advice. However, in another five cases the person had previously refused support from West Yorkshire Fire Service.