Fatal flat fire in St Helens

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service attended a flat fire in Albion Street, St Helens on Sunday afternoon (31st May 2020). Sadly, we can confirm that the incident involved one fatality.

Crews were alerted at 12.48pm and on scene at 12.53pm. North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) also attended the incident.

Firefighters discovered the body of a man in a first floor flat. Despite first aid efforts from fire crews and NWAS paramedics, the man was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

Three fire engines attended and six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus extinguished the fire using a high pressure hose reel jet. The fire was fully extinguished by around 1.35pm.

A joint investigation between MFRS and Merseyside Police has been carried out and determined the fire started in the living room of the flat. Initial investigations indicate the fire was accidental and caused by a cigarette.

Other flats in the vicinity were evacuated. No one else was injured as a result of the incident.

Firefighters and prevention staff from MFRS will now go out into the community around Albion Street to reassure residents, leafleting properties and offering vital fire safety advice on the doorstep.

Mark Thomas, Group Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the man at this time. This was a tragic accident and one that could have been avoided.

“We would urge residents across Merseyside to ensure that they have smoke alarms installed in their homes – at least one on every level – and that they are tested regularly. We would also like to make a plea to smokers to make sure they are aware of the dangers that smoking in the home can cause.

“Initially, it appears that the incident was as a result of a cigarette. Smoking remains the biggest killer in accidental fires in the home nationally. If you do smoke, please make sure you do so safely. Never smoke in bed and take extra care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight. Please do not smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol and remember, make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished – put it out, right out.”

GM Thomas added: “It’s also really important that people make sure their escape routes are free from any obstacles or clutter that may prevent them from safely exiting their property in the event of a fire. Keep your doors and window keys in a known and accessible place and make sure everyone in your household knows what to do in the event of a fire. It is also worth thinking of a second escape route in case the first one is blocked.”

The deceased’s next of kin have been informed by Merseyside Police.

These simple steps can help prevent cigarette and e-cigarette fires in the home:
• Never smoke in bed. Take care when you’re tired – it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning and it could easily set furniture alight.
• Never smoke when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your lit cigarette starts a fire you could be less able to escape.
• Put it Out, Right Out! Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished.
• Never leave lit cigarettes, cigars or pipes unattended – they can easily overbalance as they burn down.
• Use a proper, heavy ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn. Never use a wastepaper basket to dispose of a cigarette butt.
• Keep matches out of children’s reach.
• Never leave e-cigarettes on charge unattended for long periods of time.
• Do not mix components of different e-cigarettes.
• Only use the charger supplied with your device.
• Ensure you purchase your e-cigarette and charger from a reputable source and check the e-cigarette carries CE certification.
• Fit a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it weekly. Working smoke alarms can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.
• Consider installing additional smoke alarms in rooms with electrical appliances or sleeping areas.

For fire safety advice, or if you do not have working smoke alarms in your home, please call 0800 731 5958.