Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Warning following Bio-ethanol heater fire

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is warning people to be extra careful with bio-ethanol heaters after a man and boy were injured when a bio-fuel heater set light to curtains which were blown into it by a breeze from an open window.

Crews were called the house in Millways, Great Totham, on Monday March 28. A man suffered burns to his hand and foot and a five year-old boy also burned his foot.

When crews arrived the fire was out but an ambulance was called to deal with the injuries.

The fire appears to have been caused by a bio-ethanol burner. These free standing portable heaters can be used in any room with adequate ventilation and are fuelled by ethanol liquid or gel.

When they are in use these heaters produce a naked flame and must be treated with extreme care.

Assistant Divisional Officer Simon Dedman said: “Bio-ethanol heaters are relatively new and if people plan on using them it is important they take extra care. Be careful where you place the heaters and make sure that the flame is well away from furniture or anything else which could catch fire.

“They burn with a naked flame so it’s vital that all safety warnings and manufacturer guidelines are followed at all times.”

Last April four people in Basildon were injured when a container of fuel exploded while someone refilled a bio-ethanol fuelled heater while it was still alight.

Advice for anyone using bio-ethanol heaters includes:

• Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.
• Only use Bio-Ethanol fuel in fireboxes and containers designed for the product.
• Bio–Ethanol fuel is highly flammable and should only be kept in containers tightly closed and away from any ignition sources.
• Fireboxes and containers should always be placed on a stable surface and away from combustible materials.
• Never add fuel to a burning fire or overfill a fuel container and never fill up a firebox fuel container that is still hot.
• Keep children and pets away from fireboxes and fuel.
• Extinguish all fires when leaving a room or garden and before going to sleep.
• Always use Bio -Ethanol fireboxes and containers in a well-ventilated room.
• Regularly clean and check fuel containers for damage and never use a leaking one.
• Clean away any fuel spills with a damp cloth and dry completely.
• Keep your hands, hair and clothing well clear of any burning flames and fuel.
• Always light Bio-Ethanol fuel with an extended lighter or extra-long match –never discard matches into the container

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