A West Midlands man has warned people to take care with candles, after a home security camera caught a candle fire ripping through his flat.
Wazcar Abreu briefly left his home after lighting tealights. Just minutes later he returned to find it ablaze and ten West Midlands firefighters tackling the flames.
Footage from his security camera shows him lighting the tealights on a shelf, in memory of a relative. After he briefly pops out of his flat, the tealights ignite combustible items nearby. It takes just two minutes for the fire and smoke to consume the first-floor landing.
At the start of Home Safety Week, which is led by the National Fire Chiefs Council, we’re echoing Wazcar’s call for people to take extra care with candles and tealights.
He said: “I only left the flat for a few minutes but then got a call from a friend telling me what was happening.
“It all happened so quickly, the speed of the fire and the firefighters arriving. There was lots of fire and smoke. I still can’t believe it, so I want to send a message to people to please take care.”
We got the 999 call to Summer Road in Erdington from a passer-by. Just after 7.20pm on 14 May 2021 they saw a window being blown out by an aerosol exploding in the heat of the fire.
Two fire engines, from Ward End and Sutton Coldfield fire stations, arrived within five minutes.
Crew Commander Dave Bailey, from Ward End fire station, said: “It’s incredibly rare for a candle fire like this to be caught on camera. The footage not only shows the nightlights being lit but the speed at which the resulting fire develops.
“We needed to wear breathing apparatus and to force our way into the empty flat, before using hose reel jets to extinguish the flames.
“The fire damage was confined to the landing area, but could have been much worse. Fortunately, no-one was hurt but there was extensive smoke damage throughout.
“Please never leave burning candles unattended, even if only for a few seconds or minutes. Keep them well away from other combustible items. When you do blow them out, make sure they’re fully extinguished.
“Be sure to fit and regularly test smoke alarms on every level of your home and in the areas you use most. Whenever you leave home or go to bed, always close internal doors to help stop the spread of flames and smoke if there is a fire.”
Avoiding Candle Fires
Candles can create a relaxing or special atmosphere, but also bring fire into your home. So to avoid candle fires please use them carefully:
- keep burning candles in sight and extinguish them before leaving a room or going to sleep
- never burn a candle on, or near, anything that can catch fire
- keep them out of the reach of children and pets, and away from anywhere they might knock them over
- place burning candles at least three inches apart so they don’t melt one another or create draughts that can cause the candles to flare
- always use a sturdy, heat-resistant candle holder on a heat-resistant surface that’s big enough to contain drips and melted wax
- keep burning candles away from draughts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. Draughts could also blow lightweight items into a flame where they could catch fire.
Putting them out
Extinguishing candles with water could cause hot wax to splatter or a glass container to shatter. Instead, use a metal spoon or a snuffer. Make sure a candle is completely extinguished and the wick is no longer glowing before leaving the room. Never use a candle as a nightlight. Never touch or move a burning candle when the wax is liquid.
Find out more about keeping safe in the home on our Safety in the home page.