'At least one' kitchen blaze starts every day in Lancashire as fire service remind people to cook safely
The Lancashire fire and rescue service are warning people of the devastating effects small kitchen mistakes can cause, as figures reveal that there is 'at least one' kitchen fire a day in the borough.
Last year, the Lancashire fire service were called out to more than 500 fires caused in kitchens, by small mistakes such as becoming distracted or using the cooker as storage.
Homeowners are now being alerted of the devastating effects simple mistakes can make, from turning the wrong dial or accidentally leaving a hob or oven switched on after cooking.
And around half of all accidental house fires that fire and rescue services attend each year are cooking related fires - the majority of which are preventable.
Ann Baron, 78, from Ashton, saw her kitchen go up in flames and her husband burn his arm 15 years ago, after her chip pan was left on and set alight.
Reflecting on the ordeal, she said: "I was in bed with a migraine and my husband came home and decided to cook chips. He put the chip pan on fell and asleep.
"It ruined my kitchen and cooker and even melted a clock on the opposite wall. He woke me up and proceeded to throw the chip pan out. I had to take him A&E with a badly burnt arm.
"It upset me loads and still does. I would go round making sure everything was turned off and it just made me very aware of how quickly your life could change. We were lucky."
And Jo Lawson, 47, also from Ashton, said: "When I was younger, I had an electric cooker and the grill was under the hob. One day I was making toast using the grill and I forgot about it.
"I smelt the burning because my toast had caught fire and flames were coming through one of the hobs.
"I stupidly poured a tiny amount of water over the hob, not realising there was fat in the grill compartment. Once the water hit the hot fat, flames came gushing out to the ceiling and my kitchen walls were black with smoke."
On September 7, the Post reported that a house fire started after a cardboard box had been left on a cooking hob, as the fire service spent 20 minutes tackling the blaze.
And two fire engines were called out to a property on Andrew Street, Preston after a kitchen fire was caused by a pan that had been left on a hob on September 11.
Research carried out by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service shows most casualties relating to cooking fires were caused by the person trying to tackle the fire themselves, with 28 casualties in 2019.
Their newest campaign drives home the message: “Get out. Stay out. Call us out" in the event of a house fire.
Group Manager Mark Hutton, the Prevention and Protection lead for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Our data shows that cooking fires can happen to anyone, with at least one kitchen fire occurring every day in Lancashire.
"We want to see this significantly reduced and an end to injuries. The causes of cooking fires are well understood and we really hope people turn our simple messages into lifelong habits. Ensure your household has working smoke alarms, keep your hob clear and clean, and if you do have a fire close the kitchen door, get out, stay out and call us out.
"Remember that over half of all kitchen fires are caused by distraction, the next time the doorbell rings at tea time, of a family member calls you out of the room, please remember to turn off the hob or grill. As well as preventing a kitchen fire, it also means a better meal."
According to the fire service, another major cause of accidental house fires is the risk of distraction.
In 2019, people becoming distracted in the kitchen was the cause of 52 per cent of cooking related fires.
But figures are dropping - with the LFRS called out to 7 per cent fewer cooking incidents last year than in 2018, a number expected to drop further next year.
Last year, in Preston there were 40 house fires that were related to cooking, 17 in South Ribble and 13 in Chorley among others in the borough.
10 people were injured as a result of fires in Preston, with four being left with injuries in the South Ribble area.
Mark Woodward, 50, is a watch manager in Response and Emergency Planning at Lancashire's Fire and Rescue service HQ at Garstang Road, Fulwood.
He said: "I have been in the fire service for 30 years and have attended many, many fires started in kitchens from cooking. At the start of my career, I remember going to a fire involving a chip man where a young male unfortunately died at the scene because he put water on the fire, it always stuck with me.
"Over the years I have been to a number of incidents where people have been injured putting water on cooking oil fires, among other types of cooking fires. The advice for any cooking fire is to try and turn the power off if it is safe to do so and then close the door and get out.
"The impact of these fires on individuals is very upsetting and can be disastrous and life changing. If they are injured or have property damaged, it can be traumatic and nobody is immune to it, it could happen so easily to anyone.
"We all need to follow safety advice so we can further reduce these incidents in Lancashire. These can be major incidents that cause significant stress to people's lives and we want that to stop. We want to get our safety messages out there and encourage the public to follow the guidelines and not attempt to tackle any fire. The key message is people need to get out the property and call us."
For further advice and guidance on fire safety in the home, including cooking safety, click here.
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