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Fire caused by thick slice of bread caught in a toaster

How this fire happened

Thick slices of hand-cut bread placed in a toaster caused the toaster to jam in the 'on' position, resulting in the bread igniting.
The flames from this then ignited the plastic-covered kitchen cupboards positioned above the toaster, causing a fire to take hold in the kitchen.

The kitchen was severely damaged by fire while the rest of the property, including the first floor, was severely damaged by smoke deposits.

The bread was cut and put in the toaster; however, the thickness of the bread caused the toaster to jam in the 'on' position.

In the rush to get ready on a weekday morning, the occupants were distracted, forgot about the toast and left the house with the toaster still on.

Safety message

  • When in use always avoid leaving toasters unattended. With items which can be accidentally knocked and turned on - like toasters and kettles - when not in use, it's always important to switch them off and unplug them.

  • As many of us keep our toaster on a kitchen worktop that has cupboards above it, if possible, pull the toaster forward before using so that it's clear of the underside of the cupboards above.

  • Unsurprisingly toasters generate a lot of heat that, over time, can cause damage to the underside of any cupboards that sit above them.

  • If your toaster sits on the worktop underneath the kitchen cupboards, have a look at the underside of the cupboards that sit directly above the toaster; you may well find that it shows signs of browning from convection from the toaster.

  • Also, as can be seen from the photos, this incident further underlines the importance of closing internal doors before leaving one's home or going to bed. A closed door can be highly effective in limiting the spread of flames and smoke.

  • Fortunately, the occupiers had working smoke alarms and it was the sound of these that alerted a neighbour and other nearby family members who promptly called 999

As the thickness of the bread prevented the toaster from 'popping up' and ejecting it, the bread continued cooking until it ignited.

The toaster was placed on the worktop directly under the kitchen cupboards, resulting in the flames spreading to the cupboards.

After taking hold, the fire flashed over (where the heat from a fire in a room heats the other items in the room to their autoignition temperature, causing them to simultaneously ignite) to involve the whole kitchen.

The flames then spread out through the open kitchen door and onto and up the staircase to the first floor.

As well as causing severe fire damage to the kitchen and ground floor - the fire was so hot that it actually destroyed the spindles on the staircase - the smoke spread upstairs, causing severe smoke damage to the first floor.

Thankfully, the property was empty at the time of the fire so no-one was physically injured and the owners were also fully insured.

The effect it had

For the first five minutes up there it was all a blur, I can't remember a lot, I didn't know where the fire was. I saw a firefighter on the landing and thought "Right, the fire's gone upstairs".

I thought "What's happened?" and then realised the only thing that we've used was the hairdryer or the toaster.

I could see smoke coming out of the loft, I said to one of the firefighters: "There's a bag of photos up there". They pulled a bag out and found the bag of photos, I was so amazed.

It was surreal. I couldn't believe we'd been there 30 minutes earlier and it was fine. That was odd. I knew my home was fine half an hour ago and, after seeing the damage, now I know why sometimes people can't get out of fires.

The eerie thing is going back after the fire and seeing your house just as you left it.

I'm really thankful that the children were nowhere near this; from that point of view we're very lucky. I just consider ourselves very fortunate.

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