Winter warmers fuel fire risks

By Esther Lauaki

Unattended cooking, electrical appliances and heating are the top three causes of fires across the west.

Alarming statistics recently released by the CFA for District 14, which takes in Werribee, Melton, Brimbank, Hume and Whittlesea, have sparked a warning for residents in outer metro areas to be more careful with fire risks in the home this winter.

The figures revealed that across Victoria in 2018, unattended cooking in the kitchen was the most common cause of residential fires during the peak time of between 6pm and 7pm.

Data also showed the risk of dying from fire was greatest at night when occupants were asleep, with many bedroom fires involving heating systems, appliances and equipment.

District 14 operations manager David Harris said residents need to be vigilant at home as most fires could have been prevented.

“In the cooler months we spend more time at home and the things we use to keep warm such as heaters, electric blankets and home cooking can pose significant danger when used inappropriately,” Mr Harris said.

“In 2018 in district 14, the most common room in which fires started was the kitchen, which reflects the statewide findings.

“The next most common local rooms of ignition were living areas and bedrooms.

“A majority of these fires are avoidable and are an ongoing concern for firefighters who see again and again the devastating impact on families and their property.

“This winter we are asking locals to never leave cooking unattended, make sure you leave at least a metre gap when drying clothes near a heating source and ensure powered electrical appliances like hairdryers, hair straighteners and laptops are not left on bedding.”

Mr Harris urged residents to understand the risks and take action to make their home fire-safe.