Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is reminding people of the dangers of smoking in bed, after a woman in Tidworth had a lucky escape from a house fire.
Three fire crews – one from Ludgershall and two from Andover – and an aerial appliance from Salisbury were called to a property in Tidworth at 1.07am on Tuesday 28th July after fire broke out in a first floor bedroom.
A woman in her sixties had been smoking in bed and fell asleep; the cigarette then set fire to the bed. Fortunately, she woke up in time to escape the fire, although she was taken to hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.
The British Red Cross fire and emergency support service attended at the scene and cared for the occupant’s dog until it could be taken by a relative.
The fire caused extensive damage to the affected bedroom and the rest of the first floor, with the flames also spreading into the roof. Fire crews used four breathing apparatus and four jets to tackle the blaze.
Station Manager Mike Bagnall, who carried out the fire investigation, said: “The occupier was incredibly lucky to survive this fire. Had she not woken up when she did, I have no doubt that this incident would have had a tragic ending. Smoking in bed is really dangerous, as there is such a high risk of falling asleep and having your cigarette fall onto the bedding. We would urge all smokers to only smoke outside the house where possible. If you do smoke indoors, always use an ashtray and make sure that you have working smoke alarms on all levels of your home.”
Other top tips for staying safe if you have to smoke indoors include:
• Make sure cigarettes, cigars and pipes are properly extinguished when you have finished smoking.
• Don’t leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily over-balance as they burn down, and this could lead to a fire starting.
• Use a proper ashtray that won’t tip over easily and is made of material that won’t burn.
• Never tap ash or empty an ashtray into a wastepaper basket.
• Empty ashtrays frequently, damping down the contents with water before disposing of them into a metal bin outside the home.
• Take extra care if you smoke when you’re tired, taking prescription drugs or if you’ve been drinking. You might fall asleep and set your clothing, bed or chair on fire.
• Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.