Mirror caused fire in house at Charlton

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First published in News
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A fire that badly damaged a bedroom in a house at Charlton, near Malmesbury, on Saturday was most likely caused by sunlight reflecting off a mirror said firefighters.

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service was called to the property in Park Street at 2.53pm after fire broke out in a first floor bedroom. Four crews tackled the blaze, from Malmesbury, Cricklade, Tetbury and Chippenham, supported by a crew from Cirencester and the incident command vehicle from Stratton.

Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus, two hose reel jets and two main jets were used to extinguish the fire, which was contained to the room of origin because of the quick actions of the occupier, who closed doors in the affected area.

Following a fire investigation, it has been concluded that the most likely cause was sunlight reflecting off a mirror.

Group Manager Ian Jeary said: “Where you have a mirror or any other glass object, such as an ornament, that is curved, this allows the glass to act as a lens.

"When the sunlight hits it, it becomes concentrated, and if the rays are bounced onto something flammable, such as curtains in this incident, then a fire can start.”
He added: “The principle is the same as using a magnifying glass to start a fire. It does depend on the angle of the sun, but any mirror or glass ornament with a curve in it should never be left on a windowsill or surface by a window.”

He said damage to the house was kept to a minimum because the occupiers were at home and the smoke detectors sounded, raising the alarm.

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