Smoking warning after spike in residential fires

The fire in Hadleigh Close, Bethnal Green on May 28. Picture: Maium Miah

The fire in Hadleigh Close, Bethnal Green on May 28. Picture: Maium Miah - Credit: Archant

Firefighters today warned smokers to dispose of cigarettes properly after seeing a spike in home fires during lockdown.

London Fire Brigade has revealed figures showing smoking-related fires have risen by 20 per cent since measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 were brought in.

There were 315 smoking-related fires in London homes between March 20 and July 22, compared to 260 over the same period in 2019.

The spike comes despite a million smokers reportedly giving up during the pandemic.

Deputy assistant commissioner for fire safety Charlie Pugsley, said: “Lots of people have been working from home and staying indoors more, which might explain why we have seen a spike in smoking-related fires.”

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On May 28, four people were rescued and more than 100 residents escaped when a blaze ripped through a block of flats in Hadleigh Close, Bethnal Green. Investigations revealed the fire was accidental and caused by the unsafe disposal of a cigarette.

In June a fire started by a cigarette destroyed a first-floor flat in a Kennington tower block and left 18 people needing treatment from paramedics as smoke engulfed the building.

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Older people who live alone had three times as many fires in their home compared to those under 65, with smoking a leading cause of fatal fires, LFB said. Four people have died in smoking-related fires this year.

Mr Pugsley said: “Because we aren’t seeing smokers over the age of 50 quitting in the same numbers as younger generations, we aren’t going to see a change in the number of smoking-related fires for many more years to come.

“If you can’t quit, it’s always safer to go outside to smoke, but make sure cigarettes are put right out and disposed of properly.”

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