Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Bonfire explosion - safety advice issued

Hatch Road, Pilgrims Hatch
19/02/2018 @ 21:19
Incident Number: 72333
In attendance: 2 x Brentwood

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is issuing safety advice around lighting bonfires after a man used four litres of petrol to light a fire in his back garden.

Crews were initially called to reports of a bungalow on fire following an explosion.

On arrival firefighters reported that there was no fire in the property but there was a large bonfire in the back garden.

Crew Manager Tom Side said:

“As soon as we arrived at the property we could see flames measuring between 30 - 40 feet coming from the back garden.

“When we questioned the owner on how he’d managed to get such a large fire burning on a damp day he told us that he’d used four litres of petrol to light the fire.

“Shortly after lighting the fire, a petrol lawnmower, which had been placed in the middle of the pile, exploded – this is what had caused the loud sound and neighbours had reported that their windows shook.

“The fire was also only 15 feet from a row of trees.

“Thankfully no one was injured during this incident but things could have ended very differently.

“People often think that lighting petrol is a good way to set alight to a specific area, but because petrol produces large amounts of vapour, which also burns, it’s impossible to contain the fire, making it dangerous and unpredictable.

“People should never use flammable liquids to light a fire and always ensure the site of a bonfire is well away from houses and trees.”

Follow ECFRS's bonfire advice to stay safe:

•Site the bonfire well away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs
•Never leave the bonfire burning unattended
•Build the stack so that it is stable and will not collapse outwards or to one side
•NEVER use flammable liquids - paraffin or petrol - to light the fire
•Don't burn foam-filled furniture, aerosols, tins of paint and bottles
•Keep everyone away from the fire - especially children, who must be supervised at all times
•Pour water on the embers before leaving


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