Close shave for Easton family as mirror sets fire to towel
A FAMILY had a lucky escape when a beam of sunlight reflected off a shaving mirror – sending a bathroom towel up in flames.
Kate Liew came home to discover the smell of smoke at her family's home in Chelsea Park, Easton.
As she went up the stairs the smoke got thicker and she found the towel had been destroyed and scorch marks up the wall.
Mrs Liew, 35, called the fire service who were initially baffled at how the fire could have started.
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After checking the electrics, investigators believe the fire had been started by sun reflecting onto the towel from a nearby high-magnification shaving mirror.
An investigating officer found similar incidents in Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire and Bicester in Oxfordshire earlier this year. Both those incidents led to significant fires that took hold within the properties.
Avon Fire and Rescue service is now advising householders to think about the positioning of magnifying mirrors, in relation to windows, and to consider any possible fire hazards which could be caused by the sun being reflected by these mirrors.
Mrs Liew, lives with husband Allister, 34, and children Olly, eight; Alfie, five; and Freddie, three.
The full-time mum, who is pregnant with the couple's fourth child, said: "I got home on Friday afternoon and there was a strong smell and I could see smoke.
"As I went upstairs the smoke got thicker but luckily the fire was over by the time I got home.
"The towel had been completely destroyed by the fire – it was literally just a heap of cinder ashes.
"It was very lucky that it had not caught onto something else.
"The fire service arrived and were baffled as to what happened. Initially it was thought it must have been something to do with the electrics.
"The light fitting for the pull cord was burnt and smoke damaged so we thought that must be right.
"But the fire service checked and there was nothing wrong with the electrics.
"A fire officer then told me it could be the sun coming through the window, reflecting off the shaving mirror and then onto a flammable towel.
"The reason I am so sure it was the mirror is because I cleaned the bathroom that morning and moved the mirror so the magnifying side was facing the window."
Mrs Liew said people needed to know about the risk so they could protect their families.
"It's important that people are aware of the dangers these mirrors can pose," Mrs Liew said.
"I have three young children to look after and we are lucky that the towel did not set fire to anything else. The fire service, who were absolutely brilliant, certainly thinks we had a very lucky escape."
Mrs Liew's mother Kathy Crossthwaite, of Hotwells said she believed that warnings should be put on shaving mirrors to make people aware of the potential danger.
She said: "These magnifying mirrors are common now in many bathrooms and can be bought very cheaply.
"I feel that the public need to be warned of this fire hazard risk, and perhaps manufacturers should put a warning on their mirrors.
"They put warning signs on cups of coffee to say they are hot so why not explain the fire risk on bathroom mirrors?"
A spokesman for Avon Fire and Rescue service said: "At 2.42pm we were called to a private house in Chelsea Park, Easton, where there had been a small fire involving a towel on an electric hand-rail.
"It is believed that the fire happened sometime between 9am and 2pm that day in a converted en-suite bathroom situated in the loft of the building.
"One crew from Temple attended.
"It is believed that the fire may have been accidentally started as a result of the sun being reflected onto the hanging towel by a high-magnification shaving mirror nearby.
"Crews provided fire safety advice to the occupiers of the property. Householders are being advised to think about the positioning of magnifying mirrors, in relation to windows, and to consider any possible fire hazards which could be caused by the sun being reflected by these mirrors."