Play safe everyone with electric heaters

Fire at the National Freight Depot, Brightside Lane, December 14, 1984'
Fire at the National Freight Depot, Brightside Lane, December 14, 1984'
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CM Langan

Beauchief, S8

In The Star’s Grass Roots section focusing on Sheffield 6, (November 27), it was stated that Gill Furniss MP was backing a campaign on electrical safety, (specifically for the over 65s), and issuing advice on minimising fire risks, especially regarding electrical heaters.

This brought to mind the fact that on December 14, it was the 34th anniversary of the 1984 Brightside fire, which, from what I can recall, was caused by an electrical heater that caught fire.

I remember it well. I was 23 at the time and it was a year before I moved with my parents from Rotherham to Sheffield.

I was standing at a bus stop on Kimberworth High Street when the sky turned a literally evil black colour. At first, I thought we were in for an almighty storm, but then I realised it was actually a really acrid, toxic plume.

I later heard on the news that there’d been a fire at a warehouse on Brightside Lane. It was actually a furniture repository and people who’d had their furniture in storage while in the process of moving house had, very sadly, lost their possessions.

Also, from the toxins emitting from the burning furniture and from the smoke itself, the firefighters were very ill, with breathing difficulties and vomiting.

A couple of days later, our garden and that of our neighbours was covered with dark grey/black particles, the local school playgrounds were littered with them. The wind had blown the deposits from the blaze in our direction and they were even found as far away as the Dearne Valley!

My dad had the job of donning protective gloves and picking them all up, placing them in special sealed bags provided by the council, if I remember correctly. The binmen, quite rightly, would not empty the bins if they’d been placed directly inside them. This was because they were thought to be asbestos deposits, which was a very scary thought, to say the least, even though it was argued by some that they were just pieces of charred cardboard.

I believe that people living in the area, as well as the firefighters, continued to feel unwell after the event.

And all because of a heater that caught fire.

It was very fortunate that there were no fatalities. Sadly, many people are not so lucky.

Gill Furniss is right. You can’t be too careful with electrical appliances. Play safe, everyone!