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Fires caused by unattended candles

Case 1

How this fire happened


Tall candles burned down and set fire to an artificial flower display.

The burning flowers fell from the mantelpiece and ignited a sofa and cause considerable damage to the living room.

Four persons received treatment for smoke inhalation. There were no smoke alarms in the flat.


The effect it had


The fire rendered the flat uninhabitable for three months.

My daughter and I stayed with friends during this time which was very helpful as the council could only offer us a room in a nearby hotel.

We lost all our possessions in the fire and unfortunately did not have insurance, friends and family helped us with replacing the necessities and we are now back at home and building our lives again."

Case 2

How this fire happened

While candles can give a warm glow to a room during the dark winter evenings, left unattended or close to flammable materials they can cause devastation.


Unattended or carelessly positioned candles caused 952 fires in the UK between 2011 and 2012.


This resulted in 9 fatalities and 368 injuries.

Thankfully nobody was injured when the owners of a historic thatched cottage inadvertently placed a scented candle too close to curtains, causing a severe blaze.

The fire engulfed the ground floor and first floor at the two story property, destroyed the roof and caused significant damage to an adjoining cottage.

At its height, 95 firefighters and 12 appliances were involved in fighting the fire. Fortunately there were no injuries.


This case study was contributed by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

Safety message​

  • Fit a smoke alarm and test it regularly. A working smoke alarm can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and call 999.

  • Make sure that everyone in your home knows what to do if there is a fire and practice your escape route.

  • Place your candles carefully. Make sure they are on a stable surface, out of the reach of pets and children, and keep them away from flammable objects such as curtains, furniture, bedding and books.

  • Put candles out with a snuffer or a spoon - sparks can fly if you blow them out.

  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, out of drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, soot, and dripping.

  • Always put scented candles in a heat resistant holder. These candles are designed to liquefy when heated to maximise fragrance

  • Another case highlights the fire safety measures you need to take if your property has a thatched roof.

  • Leave lit candles unattended. Put burning candles out when you leave the room, and make sure they’re out completely at night.

  • Move candles once they are lit.

  • Burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare.

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