Fatal Alton house fire caused accidentally

Two firefighter silhouettes in smoke

A fatal house fire in Alton was caused accidentally, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed. 

A woman, in her 80s, was pronounced dead by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service following the fire, which took place on Castle Hill Road at around 10.05am on 10 December. 

An investigation into the cause of the fire confirmed that the blaze was started accidentally. It is also believed no smoke alarms were fitted in the property.

Darren Jackson, Station Manager at Hanley and Burslem Fire Stations, said: “This was a tragic accident in which sadly a woman lost her life. 

“Our thoughts remain with her friends and family at this difficult time.

“A joint fire investigation has taken place with colleagues from Staffordshire Police and West Midlands Fire Service which found that the fire started accidentally and was caused by the accidental misuse of a halogen heater that had been placed too close to combustible items.

“This is a stark reminder of just how much extra danger you can place yourself in by placing combustible items close to heaters unattended.”

In order to minimise the danger, below is guidance for heating homes safely:

  • Never leave portable heaters unattended
  • Never leave portable heaters on whilst sleeping
  • Ensure that they are positioned well away from anything which could knock them over
  • Ensure they are at least a metre away from any combustible materials, such as paper or curtains
  • Never buy second hand halogen heaters
  • Never power a halogen heater from an extension lead – these can easily be overloaded and cause fires
  • Regularly inspect your heater for damage. If it’s damaged, don’t use it

On the topic of smoke alarms, Darren added: “Ensure smoke alarms are in working order especially during the festive period and thereafter.

“Buying a smoke alarm could help save your home and the lives of you and your family.

“The number of smoke alarms to fit in your home depends on your particular circumstances. Fires can start anywhere, so the more that are fitted, the higher the level of protection.

“For maximum protection, an alarm should be fitted in every room (except bathrooms). You should choose the type most suited to the risk in each room. For minimum protection, the number to be fitted will depend on the type of home you live in.

“If your home is on one floor, one smoke alarm, preferably of the optical type, may be enough to provide you with early warning of a fire.

“If your home has more than one floor, at least one alarm should be fitted on each level. In this case a combination of optical and ionisation alarms, preferably interconnected, will give the best protection.

“Do not fit an alarm in the bathroom, as steam may trigger the alarm.”