A fire safety warning has been issued by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service after gardeners accidentally set their gardens ablaze with calor gas burners to kill weeds.
Firefighters attended two garden fires in two days at homes in Telford and Shrewsbury in August.
A 79-year-old woman suffered slight smoke inhalation when she fought a fire with a hosepipe when flames spread to a wooden fence and decking at her home in Hanwood, near Shrewsbury, as firefighters were on their way to the scene.
In a second fire, a greenhouse was completely destroyed as flames spread to a fence and then the house in Derwent Drive, Priorslee, Telford, causing slight damage to roof fittings and heat damage to windows and paintwork.
Station Officer James Bainbridge said that calor gas burners were popular labour saving garden gadgets and an alternative to chemicals for weed control.
“Being powered by gas, this item carries some considerable risk. It produces an intense and extremely hot flame that is effective on the weeds but is liable to cause burns if mishandled and has the potential to easily ignite items and undergrowth around the target area.”
He urged people to familiarise themselves thoroughly with their safe use and storage.
“We would urge extreme caution with such devices at all times. It is important during the current warm and dry weather to take extra care not to ignite surrounding dry materials and to ensure that thorough cooling of the burner has occurred before putting it away.”
To reduce the risk of fire spreading, use a garden hose or watering can to damp down areas recently treated, added the station officer at Shrewsbury fire HQ’s Prevention department.
· Consider alternative methods of weed control, but if using gas burner always store cylinders away from heat sources and other combustibles.
· Be vigilant during use. Aim to restrict burner use to weeds only. If the burner does come into direct contact with other items, check for ignition. If in doubt, consider using a garden hose or other water source to extinguish or ‘damp down’.
· After use, ensure the gas is fully turned off and the burner is fully cool before replacing in storage. Residual heat may ignite surrounding combustibles and cause unexpected fires.