WIGAN borough’s fire chief has issued a stern warning about the dangers of smoking leading to house fires.
Nearly 30 blazes were caused by smoking materials in the borough since 2011, according to figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Fire manager for Wigan, Steve Sheridan, told the Evening Post that although smoking-related fires are not the main cause of accidental house fires, they pose a deadly risk.
He said: “Although the number of fires caused by smoking is relatively small compared to cooking related fires, in terms of deaths resulting from accidental fires, nationally they are the main cause.
“We find that the majority of fires starting from smoking related materials occur overnight and therefore there can be other contributory factors.
“There may be alcohol, medication and or drugs involved with people starting to smoke and then falling asleep late at night.”
The figures released by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) show that the number of fires caused by smoking materials has decreased over the past two years.
In 2011, 17 blazes were recorded with 12 in 2012. The areas with the most incidents were Abram, Ince and Leigh.
GMFRS saw a reduction in all types of incidents apart from road traffic accidents in 2012/13.
And the number of fatalities decreased from two to one - that of Gordon Bailey who died of his injuries four months after a blaze in his Ashton home in December 2012.
Smoking related materials was a contributory factor to that fatal fire on Livingstone Street.
Mr Sheridan said: “One of the messages that I’m really keen to get out there is for people to stop smoking in bed.
“It increases the risk of someone falling asleep and leaving their cigarettes still burning. There is also a risk late at night of people falling asleep on the couch.
“But most of all we encourage people not to smoke full stop.
“Apart from the obvious health benefits, it also makes the home a safer place.
“Regulations were recently brought in which mean reduced ignition propensity cigarettes are now a legal requirement, they are less likely to continue burning if left unattended.
“But the safest way is to quit smoking all together.”
For more information on smoking safety or local support services to quit smoking visit http://manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice