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Firefighters urge caution following three fatal house fires

Published: 22nd June 2010

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today urged NSW residents to exercise more caution during the winter months following a string of fatalities and more than 180 house fires since the beginning of winter.

An elderly man died in Lithgow on Saturday 19 June and an elderly woman lost her life in Cabramatta today. Initial investigations indicate today's fatal fire was caused by a heater.

"Winter is the worst time of year for fires in the home and since 1 June NSWFB firefighters have attended more than 180 house fires, with around 25 per cent of these fires starting as a result of heaters, candles or cooking being left unattended.

"Today's tragic fatality is the second serious house fire involving heaters this week, with a home in Gilgandra in NSW's Central West destroyed by fire on Saturday.

"It is vital that people ensure that heaters and fireplaces are never left unattended, move combustible materials like curtains and clothes away from the heat source and most importantly ensure that all heating appliances are switched off before going to bed." Commissioner Mullins said people needed to be aware just how quickly a fire can take hold.

"A home fire can take hold in just minutes, but taking a few simple fire prevention steps takes only seconds and can reduce the risk of a home fire this winter.

"It can be as simple as turning of the stove when you leave the kitchen, cleaning the lint filter in the dryer regularly or checking the power points and power boards are not overloaded.

"It is also important that you ensure that your smoke alarms are working and that you develop and practice a home escape plan for yourself and your family. And remember, in the event of a house fire, get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000) from a safe place." For more winter fire safety tips visit www.fire.nsw.gov.au or www.3minutes.com.au