Firefighters issue urgent warning to UK households as blaze sparks energy bill fears

A fire swept through a property in southwest London after a man succumbed to burning wood in an open fire in his living room to heat his home amid rising energy bills in the UK United.

The incident prompted an urgent safety warning from firefighters after investigators determined on Monday that the cause of the fire was “an open fire used in place of gas central heating”.

The fire started because combustible objects were too close to an open fire.

As soaring energy bills fuel the current UK cost of living crisis, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) said there had been more than 100 fires involving open fires, woodstoves and heaters in the last few months alone.

Fire crews were called to the scene in Kingston Road, New Malden shortly after 8.30am on April 26 after flames spread through the property. The fire was brought under control by 10:30 a.m. and the house suffered “significant damage”.

The London Ambulance Service said it treated three people at the scene, with a man being taken to hospital first. No further details of their injuries were given.

A witness said he saw the man trying to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher when it started as a passing police officer began knocking on the windows of the adjacent property to ensure that residents go out.

A neighbour, who declined to be named, told the PA news agency: “You couldn’t see [anything] because the smoke was so thick. It was just amazing.

London firefighters issue urgent warning to UK households as energy prices rise

The worrying rise in incidents has prompted an urgent warning from the LFB as Britons find other ways to heat their homes in the colder months of the year, with UK households seeing their budgets even tighter.

Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Fire Safety Charlie Pugsley said: ‘We know these are difficult times and people are thinking of ways to reduce their energy bills, but we are really concerned that they will put lives at risk by doing so.

“If you have a wood-burning stove or an open fire, follow our advice carefully. Nearly 30% of fires involving wood stoves, heaters and traditional open fires are caused by objects placed too close to a heat source. Always use a firewall and keep away anything that could ignite, such as logs and kindling that could be ignited by radiant heat.

“It’s also important to make sure you have carbon monoxide alarms in your home. You cannot taste, see or smell carbon monoxide fumes, but it can kill within minutes.

“Please don’t take the risk of using treated wood for fires. Not only can they produce toxic fumes, but they are also more likely to spit embers when burned, which could ignite nearby objects.


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Adam Scorer, chief executive of the charity National Energy Action (NEA), described the incident as a “harsh and dangerous reality of the cost of living crisis”.

“One in four UK households is now in fuel poverty, meaning millions of people face impossible choices because of their high energy bills,” he said.

“Some choose between heating and eating, others switch off completely and some even light open fires.

“These are not coping strategies. These are people who feel they have no safe choice to make. Sadly, this is only going to become more common as the impact of rising prices and the reality of next winter kick in.

“The government must define its priorities. The government must put money in the pockets and reduce the energy bills of the people with the lowest incomes.

Last year the government passed new fire safety laws in a bid to make homes and buildings safer after the fatal Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

A government spokesman said: ‘We recognize the pressures people are facing with the cost of living which is why we have put in place a £22billion support package, including discounts and energy bill reductions.

“Anyone struggling to pay their energy bills should contact their supplier as soon as possible to work out an affordable payment plan, which suppliers are legally bound to agree to.”