WISBECH: House fire could have been caused by an un-extinguished cigarette

FIRE investigators are still waiting to enter a house in Wisbech gutted by a fire on Saturday – but initial evidence suggests it was started by a cigarette. More than 20 firefighters fought the blaze in Norwich Road for more than two hours. One person ins

FIRE investigators are still waiting to enter a house in Wisbech gutted by a fire on Saturday - but initial evidence suggests it was started by a cigarette.

More than 20 firefighters fought the blaze in Norwich Road for more than two hours.

One person inside the house escaped before the fire service arrived, but the home was gutted - the roof caved in and partition walls and the chimney were leaning dangerously on adjoining homes.

Because of the unstable condition of the house, fire investigation officers have still been unable to enter to complete a full fire investigation.


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However, a fire service spokeswoman said: "From the evidence already obtained, it is believed that the most probable cause of the fire was an un-extinguished cigarette in the bedroom of the property."

Nigel Burgess, Station Manager for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Cigarettes can burn with extreme heat - up to 920C when being inhaled.

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"The unstable hot ash can fall in the blink of an eye and go unnoticed until something around you starts to burn. However, this can be too late to avoid damage to your property, serious injury to yourself, or even death.

"National no smoking day takes place next Wednesday and while we encourage all Cambridgeshire smokers to use the day to quit the habit, we realise that there will still be some people who are unable to do this.

"If you are not ready to give up smoking this time around, there are still things that you can do to make sure that your home and family are safe."

The fire service says:

• Always make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.

• Take extra care when you're tired or have been drinking alcohol. It's very easy to fall asleep without realising that your cigarette is still burning.

• Never smoke in bed - if you need to lie down, don't light up. You could doze off and set your bed on fire.

• Never leave lit cigarettes cigars or pipes unattended - they can easily overbalance as they burn down, land on a carpet or newspaper and start a fire.

• Where possible buy child-resistant lighters and matchboxes - every year children die by starting fires with matches and lighters.

• Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can't tip over easily and is made of a material that won't burn.

• Tap your ash into an ashtray - never a wastebasket - and don't let the ash or cigarette ends build up in the ashtray.

• Fit and maintain a smoke alarm - when a fire starts, you only have a few minutes to escape. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and dial 999. You can get a basic smoke alarm for the same price as a packet of cigarettes. Better still are those smoke alarms with long-life batteries or are mains-powered.

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