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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Coiled cable warning issued after fatal fire

13/04/2017

The electrical cable reel that caused the fire
Cable reel

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service have issued a warning to residents about the danger of using uncoiled drum extension cables.

"It’s really important that extension cables are not used in this way. It is even more dangerous when high voltage items are plugged into them, putting extra strain on the cables which increases the heat build-up."

Fire Investigation Officer Neil Pedersen

The call for vigilance comes after an uncoiled cable on a reel, which was being used to power a halogen heater, caught fire and resulted in the death of an elderly woman.

The Service was called to a home of 83-year-old Lucy Lester in Turin Drive, Newcastle-under-Lyme during the early hours of Tuesday 11 April. Sadly, despite paramedics’ best efforts she died at the scene.

The fire investigation which followed established that the likelihood is the fire was caused accidentally and the source was an old electrical cable reel that had overheated.

Residents in the local area have been visited by the Service as part of targeted after fire prevention activity.

Fire Investigation Officer Neil Pedersen said: “Lucy was using an old electrical cable reel to power a halogen heater in one of the bedrooms.

“The lead had not been fully extended as it should be which meant that the cable was still wrapped around the reel. This caused the wiring to overheat and slowly burn, before developing into a fire that spread to nearby flammable materials, eventually burning through the floor into carport below.

“It’s really important that extension cables are not used in this way. It is even more dangerous when high voltage items are plugged into them, putting extra strain on the cables which increases the heat build-up.

“Even with smoke alarms fitted Lucy was not able to escape her home in time. We really want to reinforce the ‘get out, stay out’ message. If there is a fire in your home you need to get out, stay out and call 999 immediately – it really isn’t worth the risk of going to investigate or retrieve property. Items can be replaced whereas your life simply cannot.”

This is sadly the second person in the county to lose their life in a fire in less than a week. Lucy, like 96-year-old John Tune who died in Meir last Friday, was elderly and had poor mobility. These factors put them both at increased risk of dying in a fire.

Lucy and John’s deaths, along with the 56 people that have died in fires in Staffordshire in the last 10 years, are the driving force behind the Service’s SAME campaign.

Research has shown that being a smoker, drinking alcohol, having limited mobility and being elderly are all factors that increase the risk of dying in a fire. The Service is appealing for help from those that know someone that is affected by these factors; it is crucial that the message gets across to prevent more families experiencing the tragedies witnessed this past week.

People are urged to dispose of smoking materials properly, avoid cooking or smoking in bed/on the sofa when drunk. Those with poor mobility and those aged over 65 are urged to contact the Community Advice Team on 0800 0241 999 as they may need to receive a Safe and Well visit.

For more home fire safety advice visit www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/424.asp