Deadly dangers of Christmas candles

A candle burns dangerously out of control
A candle burns dangerously out of control
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Fire chiefs are warning of the dangers of candles and decorative lights as people truss up their homes for the festive season.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that there are eight house fires a year in the Wigan borough on average caused by candles alone.

And that was not taking into account a blaze in Weavermill Park, Ashton, over the weekend where a candle set fire to curtains leading to a major blaze from which residents were lucky to escape.

Last year there were 11 and there had already been seven in 2017 before the beginning of December,

Fire officials are reminding people of the dangers of lighting candles and using decorative lights in order to prevent potentially fatal house fires this Christmas. Crews have cited candles, decorative lights and decorations as a “growing source of fire” and have listed a number of important safety tips for anyone wishing to adorn their home over Christmas.

“Candles are becoming increasingly popular,” said Mike Wilding, watch manager at Hindley fire station. “And, also, with the increase in fuel poverty people are using candles because they can’t put their electricity or heating on.

“I would say always have a candle in a dish and never put them near curtains. If you open a window the curtains can blow and catch on to the candles. There are occasions where we can actually pinpoint straight away when a fire has been started by a candle.

“At this time of year there is much more information available to the general public. Putting candles on baths is not a good idea, once a tealight burns down, a bath is plastic, the bottom gets hot. You think candles are safe in a metal container but they get quite hot on any plastic surface.”

Mr Wilding said people “get what they pay for” with candles. “You’re always best going to a nunnery for candles. Yankee Candles, they are expensive but good. When you put the lid back on as well it extinguishes the candle. It’s common sense, really, don’t leave candles unattended.”

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has published tips on candle safety.

They include ensuring the candle is standing up straight and is firmly fixed in a proper holder; always burn scented candles in a suitable glass or metal container that will not leak the liquid and can withstand the heat; always leave at least 10cm between two candles and never place them under shelves or other surfaces; extinguish candles before they burn into holders; burn candles out of reach of children and pets; always put candles out before moving them; and never play with candles.