Students escape house fire

West Park, Clifton, Bristol

Students living in a shared house were lucky to escape unhurt from a fire, after a smoke alarm which had been covered over failed to activate.

Two fire engines from Temple Fire Station were called to the house after residents smelt smoke. On arrival firefighters wearing breathing apparatus made a search of the large property which was divided into a number of students bedsits.

Crews traced the source of the smoke to a first floor bedroom, where a beanbag had caught fire after being placed too near to a spotlight.

A hosereel was used to extinguish the small fire before a ventilation fan was put into use to clear smoke logging in the house.

Around eight residents of the property were fortunate to escape from the three storey home as a smoke alarm in the bedroom had been covered over with a sock. It is thought the occupier was a smoker who had covered the alarm to prevent it activating.

The Officer-in-Charge of the incident said if the fire had broken out later in the night, as the occupants slept, it could have spread rapidly and with potentially tragic consequences.

In 2007 there were almost 35,000 accidental house fires in England – resulting in 200 deaths. There were 7,100 injuries –  that's 19 a day.

Working smoke alarms give yourself and others in the household vital early warning of a fire, providing more time to escape to safety. 

Without a smoke alarm to wake you at night, inhaling just two breaths of toxic smoke while asleep can render you unconscious and you may never wake up.

Smoke alarms should be checked every week to ensure they are working - they should never be covered over or have their batteries removed.