EAST Sussex Fire & Rescue is warning homeowners to be careful using an open fire.
After the first cold snap of the winter last week, and with forecasters predicting more sub-zero temperatures this week, firefighters have warned homeowners about the danger of storing combustible material close to an open fire.
This follows a serious fire at a flat in Hove over the weekend after flames from an open fire spread to a pile of wood stacked near to the hearth.
Crew Commander James Roberts said: “Although open fires are beautiful and cosy, particularly at this time of the year, we would urge people not to store any combustibles within a metre of an open fire.
“On this occasion the pile of wood was stored too close to the fire which caused the fire spread.
“The family had an open fire in the living room but they were out of the room with the door shut when the fire spread. The daughter went to check on the fire and raised the alarm after discovering that the fire had set light to a pile of wood, which was being stored around the hearth.
“At this point the smoke alarm, which had been installed in the hallway by East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service three years ago on a Home Safety Visit, was activated. Everyone left the property and contacted us.
“I would praise them for their quick actions and for not tackling the fire themselves, as the smoke from the polystyrene ceiling tiles could have had serious repercussions.
“The thick smoke, caused by the tiles, created very difficult firefighting conditions for the crews, who successfully put the fire out.
“Please ensure that if you use an open fire to always have a fire guard in place when no one is in the room and not store any combustible materials within a metre of the fire.”