House fires claim 42 deaths in South Yorkshire in five years
House fires claimed 42 lives in South Yorkshire in five years, new figures reveal.
A report on fatal fires in South Yorkshire between April 2011 and the end of March 2016 show that there were 35 blazes in which 42 people died.
Thirteen fires were started deliberately, resulting in 16 deaths and 26 people died in 22 blazes which started accidentally.
The report, which looked at fires across Yorkshire and the Humber, found that there were no smoke alarms fitted in one third of the properties where fires claimed lives.
It also found that of the accidental fires in which people died, one third of the victims were under the influence of drink or drugs and nearly half of all accidental house fires in which people died were caused by smoking.
The majority of those who died in blazes started deliberately in South Yorkshire set the fires to kill themselves.
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South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue's Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Martin Blunden, said: “It’s shocking that after decades of national and local advertising campaigns and fire services fitting hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in people’s homes for free, people are still dying in house fires in Yorkshire where smoke alarms were not present.
“Our message to the public could not be clearer- fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them regularly.”
Officers hope the research will help fire and rescue services to better understand the causes of fatal fires and ways to prevent them.
Similar research is now expected to be carried out by fire services across the country.
“This study finally disproves popular public myths around house fires, including the idea that most fire deaths happen at night. In fact, this research has found that tea time is the deadliest time of the day," said ACFO Blunden.
“Findings like this are invaluable in helping us to better target the safety advice we give to members of the public.
"Fatal fires have dropped dramatically this century both in South Yorkshire and across the UK thanks to the work we are already doing to make local communities safer. But every single incident is someone’s death and someone’s personal tragedy.
“By working together and sharing knowledge and information with our neighbouring fire and rescue services, we hope to reduce the number of people who have to experience such loss even further,” said Martin.
A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "Deliberate fatal fires are in many cases, sadly, started by the occupier themselves.
"We know that mental health issues can be a big contributory factor in fires, which is why we are continuing to extend our work with health partners to ensure we can continue to reach those most at risk.”
One of the most deadly fires to have broken out in South Yorkshire claimed five lives in April 2014.
Shabina Begum, aged 53, her daughter 20-year-old Anum and grandchildren Adyan, nine, Amaan, seven, and nine-week-old Minahil, perished in the blaze in their home in Wake Road, Nether Edge.
Firefighters found a mobile phone on charge close to where the blaze started.
A smoke alarm was fitted in the property but when it started sounding the family initially thought it was a false alarm.