Eight chip pan fires in Derry over past year

CHIP PAN FIRE. . . .Gary Smyth, one of the two men who rescued a couple from their Meadowview Crescent flat surveying the fire damage in the kitchen of the maisonette with Independent Councillor Darren O'Reilly back in October 2014. DER4414MC070

CHIP PAN FIRE. . . .Gary Smyth, one of the two men who rescued a couple from their Meadowview Crescent flat surveying the fire damage in the kitchen of the maisonette with Independent Councillor Darren O'Reilly back in October 2014. DER4414MC070

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A new safety warning has been issued to people across Derry after it emerged that there were eight chip pan fires in Derry last year.

Figures obtained by the Derry Journal show that during 2014 Northland Road Station fire-fighters dealt with five chip pan fires, while crews at Crescent Link dealt with a further three.

All eight fires attended by local crews were at domestic homes across the city.

Tragically, one man lost his life back in November 2014 as a result of a chip pan fire Upper Bennett Street.

Several other people narrowly escaped with their lives in unconnected fires across the city.

In one such episode back in October a man and a woman were rescued by their neighbours from a burning flat in the Meadowview Crescent area of Rosemount.

Collette Craig, chair of Home Accident Prevention (Foyle), said chip pan fires could take hold very quickly.

Mrs Craig said she had experienced such a fire in her own kitchen several decades ago when it was commonplace to use old-style saucepans as chip pans.

She said: “That was one of the reasons I joined Home Accident Prevention. We had finished cooking and the chip pan wasn’t one of the modern ones, controlled by the thermostat. I had walked into the other room and we ate our tea. I had forgotten about it. I heard the bang and the kitchen was alight. That’s how easily it can happen.

“People also can fall asleep and the next thing they know their chip pan is on fire.”

Mrs Craig advised people to use only the thermostatically controlled friers, and to switch their electricity off at the mains to make certain after using chip pans that the power supply is cut off.

She also advised people to never move a burning chip pan as they could sustain severe burns and set fire to other parts of their home.

“The best thing to do is get out and call the Fire Brigade,” she said.

A spokesman for the Fire & Rescue Service said: “Figures for chip pan-related property fires attended by crews from Crescent Link and Northland Road operational areas show there were eight in 2014. These were all in domestic dwellings.

“The breakdown shows that five (5) occurred in the Northland Road area and three (3) in that covered by Crescent Link station.”

Kevin O’Neill, NI Fire & Rescue Service Group Commander, said: “Chip pans are well known for being a fire risk, but simply changing the way you cook can prevent fire.

“Our advice is that you stop using a traditional chip pan and invest in an electric, temperature-controlled deep fat fryer or cook your chips in the oven.”