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Smokers start more fires in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 13:56 05 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:29 03 March 2010

SHOCKING new figures reveal the rise in the number of house fires in Suffolk started by smokers is one of the highest in the country.

The latest official statistics also show the number of casualties from such fires has increased fivefold in the space of just a year and included one death in the county.

SHOCKING new figures reveal the rise in the number of house fires in Suffolk started by smokers is one of the highest in the country.

The latest official statistics also show the number of casualties from such fires has increased fivefold in the space of just a year and included one death in the county.

The figures have been released by the Government to coincide with the launch of a new television and radio campaign to warn people about the dangers of careless smoking.

Nationally, 136 people died as a result of fires caused by cigarettes – a third of all fire deaths in the home. In Suffolk in 2000 – the latest figures available – one person died compared to none the previous year.

During that year they were 26 house fires caused by smoking materials in the county – up 53 per cent on 1999's total of 17 - making it the third highest rise in the country after Northumberland at 143% and Essex at 72%.

Suffolk's sole tragedy is believed to have been the death of a 73-year-old man who died after a fire at his home in North Parade, Southwold, in January 2000.

An inquest later heard how John O'Brien died of burns and smoke inhalation and a coroner said it was likely the fire, which started close to where the victim had been sitting, was caused by a cigarette and that the pensioner may have fallen asleep.

Suffolk's deputy chief fire officer Ken Seager, said the figures, which were released yesterday, were surprising bearing in mind the number of people smoking was believed to be declining.

"It seems despite our efforts all types of fires are on the increase. The message is for people to take greater care when they put their pipes and cigarettes out.

"But it's just not the cigarettes but also the paraphernalia that goes with it like matches and lighters."

Mr Seager added that it was relatively simple for an inquisitive child to use a lighter and he said youngsters playing with matches or lighters had caused some house fires in Suffolk.


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