A Sheppey homeowner is helping Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) share life-saving safety advice after a vanity mirror sparked a fire in the bedroom of his home.
The blaze developed in the occupant’s bedroom in Belgrave Road on Sheppey, on a sunny afternoon on Friday 16 July, and is believed to have started after sunlight reflected from a vanity mirror onto some bedding. The heat from the mirror's reflection caught the bed alight, which then spread throughout the room within a matter of minutes.
Speaking about the moment he and his wife escaped the fire, the occupant is now sharing some vital safety advice in the hope that it will prevent others in Kent and Medway from having the same “terrifying” experience.
“My wife noticed the sun was shining on the vanity mirror, and moved it down to the floor - but the sun must have still be shining on it. She left the room, but when she returned, she saw the flames on the bed. She grabbed both of our dogs and ran out into the garden, [but] in just a few minutes the fire had taken hold, and the black smoke was halfway down the wall.”
“I knew I couldn’t do anything so ran out of the house, and called the fire service who kept me on the line," he continued. "I don’t think I’ve ever panicked so much, but the [control operator] on the phone was great. I really would urge people to get smoke alarms fitted [because] they do save lives. You should never underestimate the power of fire and the devastation it can cause.”
“It’s certainly a terrifying experience and in the aftermath, looking at the smoke damage, it’s unbelievable - you can see how some people aren’t so lucky and lose their lives. I can’t believe how fast and how much smoke filled the house in such a little time. I felt so useless that I couldn’t do anything.”
Crews in breathing apparatus used hose reel jets to extinguish the fire, before clearing the property of smoke and fumes with a high-pressure fan. Although the flames were extinguished before it could spread to the rest of the house, sadly, the blaze still caused a devastating amount of smoke damage within the property.
Phil Rice, Group Manager at KFRS, said: “The occupants were right to get out and call 999 for the fire service straight away, providing us with all the information needed to respond and extinguish the fire before it could spread throughout the rest of the house.
"This incident shows just how easy it is for magnifying or reflective objects to start fires, which is why it’s so important that everyone keeps mirrors, and other items such as crystal and glass ornaments, away from windows and out of direct sunlight. Instead, place them in a shaded area where sunlight won’t reach it throughout the day.
“You can also stay safe by ensuring you have smoke alarms fitted on each floor of your home and testing them once a week. It’s a good idea to have an escape plan too, so everyone in the household knows how to get to safety in an emergency."