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NSW residents urged to remain vigilant

Published: 24th September 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins has issued a stark warning to NSW residents to remain vigilant after several house fires at the weekend, two of them fatal.

Commissioner Mullins said firefighters were deeply concerned by the tragedies.

Overnight, a two-storey townhouse at Blacktown and a weatherboard house on the Pacific Highway at Berowra were both destroyed by fire. Firefighters also responded to a church fire at Canley Heights and a unit fire at Parramatta, which started in the kitchen. Luckily, no one was hurt at these fires.

Sadly, a man died in a unit fire at East Maitland in the early hours of Sunday morning. Firefighters were called to the East Maitland unit, on the New England Highway, shortly after midnight and found the man’s body in a room.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, a woman in her 60s perished in a house fire at Green Valley. She was found in a bedroom after the 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