Urgent safety advice issued after attempts to tackle fire almost end in tragedy

Concerned fire chiefs have urged residents to never try and tackle a fire themselves – after two separate incidents nearly ended in tragedy. 


Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have said people could put their own lives at risk if they try and extinguish a fire on their own. 


Senior officers at the Service have urged anyone who falls victim to a fire to exit the property as soon as possible and dial 999. 


The warning follows two incidents on Thursday evening where crews from TWFRS responded to fires that had been exacerbated by attempts to extinguish them. 


Occupants at an address in Newcastle had thrown water on a kitchen fire after oil in a pan had ignited. This caused the blaze to spread and cause further damage. 


While just hours later, residents at another home in Killingworth had again tried to use water to extinguish a fuse box fire – causing the flames to spread even further. 


Thankfully nobody was injured in either of the incidents thanks to the prompt actions of TWFRS Fire Control and firefighting crews. 


But now Service Delivery Group Manager, Steve Burdis, has called on residents to “avoid putting your lives in danger” by trying to extinguish the flames. 


He said: “In both incidents we were on scene in a matter of minutes to immediately begin tackling the fire and preventing it from spreading any further. 


“The quick work of our Fire Control, and then the decisive actions of those crews who responded, stopped any further damage from taking place at either address. 


“We don’t necessarily expect the public to understand how to tackle different kinds of fires, or how different types of fire will react to water. 


“That is why we would never endorse anyone tackling a fire themselves and would always encourage you to get to safety and call 999. 


“Throwing water on a fire caused by oil igniting can be disastrous, this causes an explosive reaction that can be those in vicinity at immediate risk of harm. 


“Similarly, when dealing with electric fires, never use water to try and extinguish it. This can again cause a fire to spread even further. 


“Our thoughts are with the families involved in both these incidents as we know just how devastating it can be to fall victim to a fire.  


“This could have happened to anybody and, above anything, we are relieved nobody was injured.  


“The occupants at one of the addresses did shut the door to the kitchen during the fire and this greatly reduced the spread. Always keep internal doors closed. 


“Please remember these incidents if you’re unfortunate to experience a fire in your home and make sure you have a working smoke alarm fitted.” 


TWFRS Fire Control first received a call about the incident in Newcastle at 5.04pm on Thursday, with residents reporting a fire in their kitchen. 


Oil cooking in a pan had caught fire but the fire quickly spread when the occupants poured water on the hot pan in a bid to extinguish the flames. 


Firefighters were on scene in just four minutes and were able to extinguish the fire. It caused significant damage to the kitchen but did not spread to the rest of the home. 


Then at 8.11pm that same evening TWFRS Fire Control received a call about an electrical fire in Killingworth and immediately deployed crews. 


A suspected burst water pipe had caused the fuse box to ignite but, when the occupants tried to extinguish it using water, it had spread to the cavity between the floor joists. 


Thankfully firefighters were on scene in a matter of minutes at which point they used small cutting gear to access the cavity and extinguish the blaze. 


The actions of firefighters at both incidents helped the fires from spreading to nearby residential properties and prevented any threat to life. 


Further advice about fire safety can be found on the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service website at www.twfire.gov.uk.  


There you can also find out more about the Service’s free Safe and Well visits to ensure your home is safe in the event of a fire.