South Yorkshire fire chief’s safety plea

Fire damaged house in Oxclose Park Rise, Halfway, Sheffield.
Fire damaged house in Oxclose Park Rise, Halfway, Sheffield.
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THIS was the scene of devastation at a Sheffield home after a laptop computer burst into flames when it was left charging while the owners went out.

The picture has been issued by fire chiefs in South Yorkshire after they surveyed 500 people and found 76 per cent fail to switch off electrical appliances at the mains at night.

They found 63 per cent of those interviewed were unaware of how much electricity extension leads and multi-plug adaptors can take.

The fire broke out in Oxclose Park Rise, Halfway, in August, after the laptop was left on charge and overheated while the occupants of the house were out.

It caused £100,000 of damage, with the owners of the property having to move out for two months while repairs were carried out.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is using the blaze to warn householders not to leave electrical items plugged in while homes are empty.

The service is also urging people to think twice about overloading sockets, with most adaptors only able to take a total of 13 amps.

Some high-powered equipment, including irons and hair straighteners, use 20 amps just on their own.

Richard Taylor, aged 53, whose home was damaged by the fire, said: “My daughter had wanted to download some photos, but her laptop battery was flat, so she put it on charge and went to walk the dog for half an hour – when she returned she saw flames in the corner of her bedroom.

“She ran downstairs to get a bucket of water, but when she went back upstairs the flames were at the door and by the time firefighters arrived the fire had spread to the landing.

“Everything was destroyed, the fire ended up costing about £100,000, so I urge everyone to switch off all their appliances when not in use.”

The fire service said its crews were called to ‘dozens’ of house fires last year caused by overloaded sockets.

Diane Malpass, from the service, said: “The simple advice is to check what equipment you’re plugging into extension leads and read the labels at the end of each plug to make sure it’s not going to cause a blaze.

“Common sense should tell you that you’re putting yourself in danger if you leave things like heaters and irons plugged in at night.”

The service commissioned the survey ahead of a new safety campaign aimed at reducing electrical fires.

* Do not overload sockets - long, strip adaptors are safest, but can only take a total of 13 amps

* Switch off electrics at night and when you leave the house – especially on high-powered things like washing machines

* Watch for frayed wires and don’t use items with them

* Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark

* Look for signs of dangerous or loose wiring, such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets and fuses that blow.