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Pictured: Devastating effects of Belfast electric blanket fire as NIFRS chief warns of winter risks amid Covid measures

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The aftermath of a recent fire in Belfast, believed to have been caused by an electric blanket.

The aftermath of a recent fire in Belfast, believed to have been caused by an electric blanket.

The result of an accidental fire

The result of an accidental fire

A warning has been issued about accidental fires

A warning has been issued about accidental fires

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The aftermath of a recent fire in Belfast, believed to have been caused by an electric blanket.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has issued a warning after revealing more people have died in accidental fires so far this year than in all of last year.

The organisation released pictures showing the devastating effects of a fire thought to have been caused by an electric blanket.

Four fatal accidental fires have already been recorded since April, with the usually high-risk winter months still ahead.

In the previous year of 2019/20 three people died in accidental incidents with two occurring between December and February.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

Over 40% of all fatal accidental fires in the home happened during winter months over the past five years.

Assistant chief fire and rescue officer Paddy Gallagher said the risk has increased because more people are spending time at home due to Covid-19.

"These worrying statistics are a stark reminder of how important it is that we all take our home fire safety extremely seriously, especially in the high risk winter months.

"I’d encourage any member of the public who is over 50, who has impaired mobility, a disability or a health condition that would impact on their ability to acknowledge or respond to an emergency in their home, to contact us to arrange a free Home Fire Safety Check."

In a new winter safety campaign, NIFRS warned the public about the dangers posed by cooking, electronics and smoking materials.

Candles, fairy lights, open fires, portable heaters and electric blankets are also putting people at risk over the Christmas period.

The Fire Service appealed for the public to check smoke alarms, be aware of the obvious dangers of fire and plan an escape route in the home.

Mr Gallagher said the fire service will continue to offer fire safety advice with food parcel schemes this year.

"We will also be proactively delivering fire safety advice to 16,000 households in those areas we have identified as being most at risk of accidental fire in the home," he said.

"Throughout the pandemic firefighters have continued protecting the community they serve. Our people have worked extremely hard, responding to more incidents this year compared to the same period in 2019, despite the additional pressures placed on us by the pandemic.

"I recognise this has been a challenging year for so many people and we’re all looking forward to Christmas, but it’s vitally important that we don’t let down our guard when it comes to protecting ourselves and our loved ones from fire."

Belfast Telegraph


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