Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Unattended tea light starts house fire

Raphael Drive, Chelmsford
01/04/2021 @ 18:53
Incident Number: 141678
In attendance: 2 x Chelmsford

Crews have issued safety advice after an unattended tea light caused a house fire.

Firefighters were called to a property in Raphael Drive, Chelmsford yesterday (Thursday 1 April) at 6.53pm.

The two-storey house was unoccupied but thankfully a neighbour spotted the fire and called 999.

Watch Manager Gavin Ellis said: "The lounge was 50% alight and the rest of the house had filled with smoke when we arrived, but crews did a really good job of limiting the damage.

"The occupier had lit a tea light on the window sill and forgot to put it out when she left the property. The blind caught light and the fire spread to the window sill, blankets on the sofa and the sofa itself. 

"Please follow our safety advice when using candles and tea lights - make sure they are not near flammable materials and make sure they are fully out before you leave them unattended."

The fire was completely extinguished by 7.21pm but the smoke damage has left the home temporarily uninhabitable.

Watch Manager Ellis said the property had three working smoke alarms, which would have proved vital in different circumstances.

He said: "If the occupiers had gone to bed and left the tea light burning, the smoke alarms would have given them a chance to get out.

"This incident highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms; so make sure you test yours at least once a month."

Do you have working smoke alarms?

We want every home in Essex to have a working smoke alarm on every floor. If you or someone you know doesn’t have working smoke alarms at home, please get in touch so we can see how best to provide fire safety advice, either through a Home Safety Visit or advice over the phone. You can get in touch with us at

Candles and tea lights: safety advice 

  • Make sure candles and tea lights are away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains and blinds
  • Put candles out when you leave the room or property, and make sure they’re put out completely at night
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, but avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping
  • Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring
  • Don’t move candles once they are lit
  • Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause flaring
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