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Garage fire prompts barbecue safety warning

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The Service was called to Challenger Close in Ledbury at 12.20am on Sunday morning (2 June) after the occupants were alerted to a fire in their property by the activation of a smoke alarm.

Two fire crews from Ledbury attended, and firefighters used one hose reel and thermal imaging equipment as they brought a fire in the garage under control. They also used positive pressure ventilation fans to clear the smoke from the property.

Station Commander Kevin Williams from HWFRS said: “The fire involved a disposable barbecue which had been used by the family during the day on Saturday. Once it was finished with, and appeared to be out, the occupants had put it into a black rubbish bag which they moved into the garage early evening as they cleared up outside. However, it would seem that the charcoal in the foil tray was still hot, causing other rubbish in the bin bag to heat up and then ignite.

“Thankfully, there was a working smoke alarm in the house which was activated by the smoke, and the family was able to escape unharmed, with only minimal damage in the garage.”

He added: “Two key safety messages can be taken from this incident.

“Firstly, a working smoke alarm gave the family an early alert which meant they were able to get out and call 999 before the fire had chance to develop further. We’d urge everyone reading about this incident to take a few moments to check their own smoke alarms are in working order to ensure a similar early warning in the event of a fire in their home.

“Secondly, the incident serves as a reminder on the safe disposal of the hot ashes from charcoal barbecues. Always ensure the barbecue is cool before attempting to move it and the ashes are completely cold before disposing of them. Take extra care with plastic bin bags, dustbins and wheelie bins.”

Further tips on barbecue safety include:

  • Keep a bucket of water, a bucket of sand or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.
  • Never leave the barbecue unattended.
  • Use only enough charcoal to cover the base of the barbecue to a depth of about 5cm (2 inches).
  • Keep children, garden games and pets well away from the cooking area.
  • Use only recognised lighters or starter fuel on cold coals. Never use petrol or paraffin to start or revive your barbecue.
  • Never tip hot charcoal or ashes into plastic bin bags, dustbins or wheelie bins which can melt.
  • Enjoy yourself but don’t drink too much alcohol if you’re in charge of the cooking.