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Fire Service warns of the combination of sun and glass following lucky escape

Date: 24th January, 2017

Even in these colder months, the sun has the power to set fire to household items, especially when the sun’s power is magnified through glass ornaments and mirrors inside your home.

This was the case for a local resident this week who could smell burning, but couldn’t locate the source. After calling Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, firefighters found that a snow globe on the windowsill was focussing the sun’s winter rays onto a woollen throw, which had two scorch marks and was still smouldering.

A mirror or any other glass object, such as an ornament, that is curved, allows the glass to act as a lens. When the sunlight hits it, it becomes concentrated and, if directed onto something flammable, such as curtains or soft furnishings, then a fire can start.

The principle is the same as using a magnifying glass to start a fire. It does depend on the angle of the sun, but any mirror or glass ornament with a curve in it should never be left on a windowsill or by a window.

Head of Fire Safety, Seth Why said: “This resident was extremely lucky and this highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms installed within your home. We’ve seen several serious house fires started in very similar circumstances and it’s very easy to underestimate the power of the sun when it shines through glass, especially in the colder winter months.

“Our advice is to make sure that you move glass ornaments away from windows and be aware of where sunlight falls inside your home.”

If you smell burning inside your house and don’t know where it’s coming from, call 999.

More information about the risks posed by mirrors and glass ornaments can be found at www.dwfire.org.uk.


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