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Sunlight causes fire in Maidstone

Thursday 18th September 2014

FOR most of us, seeing the sunshine streaming through the windows of your home is a reminder that summer is not yet over.

However, an elderly couple in Maidstone was left puzzled when they smelled smoke coming from their bedroom in West Park Road and discovered a smouldering hole in a wooden window frame.

Terry Culham, whose wife Ann uses a wheelchair, said: “I went upstairs to get a book and noticed an unusual smell coming from the back bedroom. When I went in to see what it was, I noticed blue smoke coming from the window frame.

“I dread to think what might have happened if we had been out or not noticed it – people need to be aware that this sort of thing can happen.”

Kent Fire and Rescue Service sent a fire investigation officer who found that the scorching was a result of sunlight reflecting on a magnifying mirror placed on a dressing table.

Andy Corby, who examined the scene, said: “Luckily, the fire was discovered early and had not yet developed enough to spread to the curtains or other items near the window.”

Charlie Smith, an officer with KFRS’s fire investigation team, said: “There have been several fires of a similar nature in recent years in Kent - some of them causing considerable damage - where sunlight has been the ignition source. We would ask residents to think carefully about ensuring mirrors and other reflective glass objects are positioned away from direct sunlight.”

He gave the following advice:

Consider storing objects such as magnifying glasses, mirrors, spectacles and glass ornaments away from windows or covering them when not in use.

Take extra care during the autumn and winter months when the sun is low in the sky.

Close internal doors when you leave home and as part of your bedtime routine.

Avoid placing objects capable of focusing the sun’s rays close to the window and combustible materials such as upholstery, curtains or paper.

Test your smoke alarm every week.

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