Safety warning after man (77) dies in fire caused by microwavable heat bag

Safety warning after man (77) dies in fire caused by microwavable heat bag

By David Parker | 06/04/2018

Safety warning after man (77) dies in fire caused by microwavable heat bag

THE FIRE service has warned about the dangers of over-heating microwavable heat bags - which contain wheat inside - following an inquest into the death of a pensioner.

Firefighters from Doncaster and Maltby station were called to Glaisdale Close, Laughton Common, on November 12 last year and discovered the body of Melvyn Gathercole (77) in the front room of his bungalow.

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "Upon arrival at this incident, it was apparent that there had been a slow burning fire which was already extinguished when fire crews arrived. Firefighters gained access to the property via the front door and discovered the body in the front room of the bungalow.

"Fire investigators found a wheat bag that had been overheated to have been the cause of the fire."

Assistant coroner Louise Slater recorded a verdict of accidental death at an inquest held at Doncaster Coroner's Court yesterday (5).

Station manager Simon Rodgers, who investigated the cause of the fire, said: "No-one deserves to die in these circumstances and ultimately any house fire death is preventable, regardless of any other factors which may have contributed to that person’s death.

"To ensure that microwavable heat bags are used safely, users should always ensure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as these bags can become too hot if heated for longer than recommended.

"We want to again call on our partners in the health, housing and social care sectors to do more to help us identify those who are most at risk of fire, so that we can put extra measures in place to help prevent fatal fires."

Safety advice for preventing fires caused by wheat bags:

  • Only purchase a wheat bag that comes with clear manufacturer instructions
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and never heat the bag for longer than recommended
  • If you know an elderly person who uses a wheat bag, explain the manufacturer’s instructions to them
  • Leave wheat bags to cool in a safe area and don’t use one in a confined space such as under bedding

For further details about the inquest see next week's Advertiser.

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