‘Protect your thatched roof’ home owners are warned after Middleton blaze

Firefighters are urging the owners of thatched properties to protect themselves against the risk of fire after battling a significant blaze in Middleton-on-Sea earlier this month.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 10:29 am

Thhatched properties are most a risk from fires beginning in the chimney, a spokerson for West Sussex Fire and Rescue said, and there are a number of steps homeowners can take to keep their properties safe.

The spokesperson recommended having chimneys inspected by qualified and experienced chimney sweep, who should be able to identify potential problems at an early stage.

Burning wet wood or inappropriate materials like paper or card could create sparks which increase the risk of a fire by raising the temperature of the thatch.

The thatched roof blaze took place in Sea Lane

The spokesperson also made clear that thatched roof properties are at risk from damaged or poorly installed electrical cables in the roof space of the property, as well as the risk of fire from outside the property. Embers from nearby bonfires or fireworks, they said, might also present a risk of starting a fire.

Other safety and prevention tips supplied by West Sussex Fire and Rescue include:

n Installing smoke alarms

n Considering a system of heat sensors around the thatch for early warning if it overheats.

n Insulating the chimney flue to prevent heat from transferring to the thatch layer.

n Fitting a ‘bird guard’ to the chimney to deter birds from building nests.

n Ensuring naked flames are extinguished before going to bed.

n Only burning dry, seasoned hard wood.

n Avoid having bonfires or fireworks near the property.

n Have the electrical system throughout the property checked by a qualified electrician to ensure cables are correctly installed. Electric cables in the loft should run through an insulated conduit and lights in the ceiling below should be covered with an intumescent hood.

Station manager Simon Foster said: “Both of the recent thatch fires we attended began accidentally and were absolutely devastating for the owners involved.

“Thatch roofs are designed to repel water, which makes tackling this type of incident very difficult once a fire breaks out.”

Station manager Simon Foster said: Both of the recent thatch fires we attended began accidentally and were absolutely devastating for the owners involved.

“Thatch roofs were designed to repel water, which makes tackling this type of incident very difficult once a fire breaks out.

“Living in a thatched roof property means you do need to consider your fire safety and follow this advice to mitigate against the risk of a fire breaking out.

“Prevention is essential, detection is nearly always too late.”