Weekend house fire tragedies prompt house fire warning

Published: 23rd September 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins said firefighters were deeply concerned following two tragic home fire deaths over the weekend.

A man has died in a unit fire at East Maitland overnight – the second fire death this weekend after a woman in her 60s perished in a house fire at Green Valley in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Firefighters were called to the East Maitland unit, on the New England Highway, shortly after midnight last night and found the man’s body in a room. During firefighting operations, about 20 guests from the nearby Endeavour Motel were evacuated for safety.

At Green Valley, the body of a woman in her 60s was found in a bedroom after a fire destroyed her home. Two others suffered burns during the incident.

Commissioner Mullins said despite the warmer weather, the evenings remained cool and householders should not be complacent about home fire safety.

“Although investigators are yet to determine the cause of these fires, these deaths serve as a grim reminder for people to take action now to reduce their chances of becoming fire victims,” he said.

“More than 60 per cent of home fire deaths occur during the cooler months of May to September.

“The leading causes of fatal home fires are heaters and electrical equipment/wiring (20 per cent), smoking materials (20 per cent) and matches or lighters (5 per cent). Unattended cooking is also a danger area.”

People can greatly reduce their risk of fire by identifying and changing risky behaviour and habits, including:

• Turning off heaters before going to sleep • Keeping clothing and other flammable materials at least 1m from heaters and open fires

• Turning off electric blankets before going to sleep • Not overloading power points and power boards

• Not leaving cooking, and other open-flame materials such as cigarettes and candles, unattended.

To help identify potential risks in the home everybody is encouraged do a free FRNSW/GIO online home fire safety audit at www.homefiresafetyaudit.com.au