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Cambridge house fires prompt safety warning from fire service after six-year-old boy required hospital treatment

By Adrian Curtis

Mirror caused blaze at Cambridge home
Mirror caused blaze at Cambridge home

Fire service urge residents to make sure household items are used safely

Residents in Cambridgeshire have been warned to take extra care with everyday household items following two house fires, one of which left a six-year-old boy needing hospital treatment for smoke inhalation.

Two crews from Cambridge were called to a house fire in Sandwich Close in the Kings Hedges area of Cambridge after a lithium battery exploded. Firefighters arrived to find the fire had already been extinguished but a six-year-old boy was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.

Watch Commander Clive Allen said the owner had been re-energising a genuine make battery bought from ebay as flat and said it was a common battery, used for a household drill.

He said: “The battery started to fizz so they took it off the charger but it continued to fizz before exploding. There was enough force to penetrate the ceiling plasterboard and hot fragments were thrown across the room, burning the carpet, curtains and furnishings. This then filled the flat with acrid smoke causing this six-year-old son to suffer smoke inhalation.”

In the second incident, a vanity mirror left on the window sill of a dressing room adjoining a first floor bedroom of a property in Witchford set fire to two wooden jewellery boxes on the window sill. The fire then spread to the window sill and smashed the glass. The owner returned to the house to find their house in Main Street filled with smoke, and the smoke alarms sounding.

Station Commander Dave Allen said: “There was a very strong sun all day and it was magnifying against the wooden jewellery boxes, setting them and the window sill on fire. It caused significant damage to the window frame and window sill and smoke damage throughout the property. They were fortunate they didn’t have any curtains on the window sill because they would have been the first thing to ignite and the outcome could have been a lot worse.” A fire engine from Ely was called to the property on January 24 just after 4pm. A thermal imaging camera was used to make sure there was no more burning behind the windowsill. Firefighters then used a positive pressure ventilation fan to clear smoke from the property.

Head of Community Fire Safety for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Kevin Napier said: “Both these incidents highlight the fact that regular, everyday household items and appliances have the potential to cause fires in people’s homes causing damage to both the home and the individuals safety and wellbeing. We encourage people to be aware of objects in the home such as shaving or vanity mirrors and glass ornaments and never place them on window sills or in direct sunlight. Lithium batteries can be very dangerous and so the manufacturers guidance should be followed at all times when using them.

“It is also important to protect your homes from faulty appliances by ensuring you register items such as washing machines and tumble driers when you purchase them to ensure both their guarantee is upheld but also that you have direct contact from the manufacturer should the item be recalled. We recently highlighted ‘Register my Appliance’ day and more information can be found on our Facebook page.”


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