Booze blamed for festive fire calls increase

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Alcohol and drug use were responsible for double the usual number of house fires in the run-up to Christmas over the last two years, new statistics reveal.

Fire chiefs are so concerned with the annual increase they are using this year’s festive season to urge South Yorkshire residents to think twice about switching on their cookers after a drink, n the hope of bucking the trend.

Last year firefighters were called out to an average of 5.6 fires a month where alcohol or drugs played a part, but that rose to 12 in December.

The year before, 2009, crews dealt with an average of 6.8 such blazes compared to 11 in December.

Firefighters said most blazes which started in kitchens in the last two years had involved people who were drinking or taking drugs.

Station manager Jon Torn, who works in community safety, said: “The busy Christmas party period is already upon us.

“We’re not here to stop people having a good time. But people must recognise that by cooking when you’ve been out drinking, you are automatically putting yourself at greater risk of fire.

“Seasonal drink-drive campaigns have made getting behind the wheel of a car after a drink completely unacceptable and we think the same stigma should be attached to cooking in the home.

“We’ve attended far too many serious incidents where people have been under the influence of alcohol and fallen asleep with food on the hob or in the cooker, or where drink or drugs have made them uncoordinated.”

He said it was too easy to fall asleep with cookers and pans left on after a drink.

“People will be having drinks and going to parties or having people round but it is all too easy to fall asleep or get distracted while you have pans on or food cooking and before you know it there’s a fire.

“I can’t emphasise enough the dangers of getting into a car after a drink and it’s the same for cooking.”