Warning after house fire

FIRE chiefs today warned of the danger of leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in after a blaze destroyed a bedroom in Wroxham Road, Ipswich.A faulty mobile phone charger that overheated has been blamed as the cause of the fire.

FIRE chiefs today warned of the danger of leaving mobile phone chargers plugged in after a blaze destroyed a bedroom in Wroxham Road, Ipswich.

A faulty mobile phone charger that overheated has been blamed as the cause of the fire.

Assistant divisional officer Martyn Thorpe, of Suffolk Fire Service, believed many people were not aware of the dangers of leaving phone chargers plugged in.

He said: "We would not recommend to people to not use them but just do not cover them or leave them permanently plugged in.

"Only have them plugged in when you are requiring to use them.

"You do get a warmth off of them so make sure there is enough air gaps around them.

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"If you block air vents, then, after a period of time, it will start to smoulder.

"If they look dusty or there are any funny smells from them, then get them checked by an engineer."

Mr Thorpe said that fires started by phone chargers overheating were "very infrequent", but added: "Occasionally, fires do happen so make sure you have a smoke alarm and close your doors at night so the fire should be small and confined to one room.

"People should unplug electrical things at night."

Chris Webster was the only person in the house at about 10pm on Saturday when a fire broke out in a room belonging to his housemate, Andrew Crown, 25.

Mr Webster, 25, said: "I was sitting downstairs watching television and I heard the smoke alarm go off. I went upstairs and got halfway but all I could see was the flames coming out of his (Andrew's) door.

"I alerted my neighbours and used their phone to call the fire brigade."

Fire crews put the blaze out in about 30 minutes and then discovered it had been caused by a mobile phone charger that had been left plugged in.

The fire destroyed Mr Crown's bedroom and most of his belongings and also caused smoke damage to the bathroom and another bedroom.

Mr Webster added: "If neither of us were in then it could have been a lot worse, but no one was hurt and everything can be replaced.

"The fire brigade said mobile phone chargers should never be left on, but everyone I know leaves their charger on."

Rex Young, owner of the Young Electrical Supplies Ltd in Wherstead Road, Ipswich, today insisted the fire would not have happened if the charger worked correctly.

He said: "There must have been something seriously wrong with it to cause that damage. On most chargers they are supposed to have a cut out on them and they should not produce that amount of heat.

"Every electrical appliance is potential dangerous but I would have thought it would have just got hot. There is a coil in there that reduces the voltage and I cannot think of anything in there that would cause it to do that kind of damage.

"There must have been a fault in the manufacturing and maybe the wires were not in the unit correctly. If there is a manufacturing fault you cannot correct against that."

n Have you ever been involved in a fire that was started by a faulty mobile phone charger? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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