House fire caused by sunlight on mirror

19 September 2010

A fire at a house in Bletchley yesterday (Saturday) afternoon is believed to have been caused by sunlight reflecting off a make-up mirror.

Two crews from Great Holm were called to the two-storey home in Tiffany Close at 12.13pm.

Watch Manager Dominic Smith said: “The mirror was on a dresser just below the windowsill in one of the bedrooms.

“It it appears that over a period of time, it reflected the sun’s rays on to the blinds, which eventually caught fire and fell on to clothing.

“Although the fire was restricted to a relatively small area of the bedroom, it built up a lot of heat and created a great deal of smoke, which spread through the first and ground floors.”

Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put out the fire with two hose reels and cleared the smoke with a powerful fan.

They rescued two dogs from the ground floor. There was no-one else in the house at the time.

Nationally, a number of house fires are known to have started because of sunlight being refracted by make-up and shaving mirrors and decorative “bottle effect” windows. Many grass fires are known to have started because of the sun’s rays being magnified by bottles or fragments of broken glass.

Dominic said: “Fires of this type are very rare, as they require so many variables to fall into place, including the angle of the sun and the positioning of the mirror and the combustible items.

“However, we are advising people to take extra care, particularly with convex and concave shaving or make-up mirrors, while the sun is low on the horizon.

“Keep them out of contact with direct sunlight, and never put them on window sills."

The house was fitted with a smoke alarm on the ground floor but not on the first floor. Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service recommends smoke alarms on every level of a home.

If you would like a free assessment of the fire risks in your home, and free smoke alarms where necessary, ring the home safety check hotline on 01296 744477, email cs@bucksfire.gov.uk or visit www.bucksfire.gov.uk/bucksfire/free