Journalist, Cherry Park

Author Bio ▼

Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
January 17, 2014


State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024

Smoking Pigeons, Microwaving Toilet Rolls & Other Fire Hazards

Overheated pants, magic spells, a pigeon with a cigarette, and a microwaved toilet roll were among the more unusual causes of fire reported by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) in 2013.

Among the 2,000 fires analysed by the Brigade’s fire investigators, the following causes were identified:

  • A teenage boy lit a can of deodorant he had just sprayed on himself before going on his first date, igniting the gases and causing an explosion.
  • A microwaved toilet roll that someone was attempting to dry out after the person dropped it down the loo caught fire. Another person tried to use a toilet roll as a candle holder.
  • A dog hit the controls of a toaster with its paws as it leapt onto a kitchen worktop to reach some food, setting fire to bread left in a bag on top of the toaster.
  • A mouse got into the back of a fridge freezer and shorted the electrics, causing a blaze
  • Pants on fire: A man vigorously using a pair of boxer shorts to apply linseed oil to a floor caused the pants to overheat and start a fire.
  • A pigeon dropped a discarded lit cigarette down a blocked up chimney, setting fire to a bird’s nest inside it.
  • Unattended incense candles bought as part of a magic spell set fire to the user’s flat.
  • A bacterial reaction ignited dried out potting compost left unattended in a basement room over winter, causing the room to catch fire.

“There’s never a dull moment in the fire investigation team,” said LFB station Manager Charlie Pugsley. “On one occasion it even turned out that the family dog had started the fire by pawing at the cooker, inadvertently turning the gas on and setting light to food left on the hob.”

But while they may be amusing, all these cases highlight the multitude of possible causes of fire that people may not have thought of, and emphasise the importance of taking simple fire-safety precautions.

Moral: Fire safety can never be taken for granted.

Click here to view Figure 1.

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XL700 Mike
XL700 Mike
January 24, 2014 5:38 am

Enlightening list of fires from LFB.
This clearly demonstrates how dangerously people behave at home. It is suprising that the death toll in the home has generally decreased with such careless behaviour still being frequently discovered.
This shows the focus on work fire safety should really be moved to the home where sadly, far more people are killed or injured, sometimes  as a result of such incidents.

January 29, 2014 1:11 pm

I wonder if the mouse survived the blaze or not? While there is nothing funny about fires at home, but most of these incidents make us smile for a moment. The most amusing of these incidents is the one caused by boxer shorts. I can only imagine the reaction of the guy doing that. Such silly things can put our life and money at risk.

January 29, 2014 1:11 pm

@XL700 Mike, I partly agree with you but most of these incidents can’t be termed as the result of dangerous behavior of people at home. In fact some of these are entirely out of control such as pigeon dropping the cigarette into the chimney or mouse causing the short circuit. But yes we can never be too careful when it comes to home fire safety.

January 29, 2014 1:11 pm

At the same time I was wondering how many times I behaved more “dangerously” than any of these reported incidents at my home but fortunately nothing bad happened. After all it is our home and we are supposed to be casual and relax at home. It would make our life very strict if we had to account for every little piece of bread lying on some appliance.