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A house fire was caused by a man ‘burning timber to save on energy bills’

London Fire Brigade has urged people to be careful after a New Malden blaze caused by a man burning timber on an open fire in his living room.

A fire broke out after a man burned timber on an open fire in his living room to save money on energy bills, fire investigators have said.

The blaze in New Malden, south-west London, caused “significant damage” to the property when “combustible items were left too close to an open fire”, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) explained. The man was taken to hospital following the blaze at the end of April, but was not seriously injured.

With millions of households struggling to deal with rising energy bills and the wider cost of living crisis, London Fire Brigade (LFB) has urged caution when using open fires to save money on heating homes.

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“We know this is a difficult time and people are thinking about ways to reduce their energy bills, but we’re really concerned that they may be putting lives at risk by doing so,” said LFB deputy assistant commissioner for fire safety Charlie Pugsley.

The force revealed firefighters had been called to over 100 incidents involving open fires, log burners and heaters in the last few months.

Almost 30 per cent of these fires were down to items being left too close to fires, Pugsley added.

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“Always use a fire guard and keep anything that could catch alight well away, such as logs and kindling which could be ignited by radiating heat,” he said. “It’s also important to make sure you have carbon monoxide alarms in your home. You can’t taste, see, or smell carbon monoxide fumes, but it can kill in minutes.

“Please also don’t take the risk by using treated wood on fires. Not only can they produce toxic fumes, but they are also more likely to spit embers when burnt, which could set alight to nearby objects.”   

The energy bill price cap increased on April 1 – a month before the fire – increasing household bills by £693 to £1,971 per year for those on default tariffs.

The cap is due to rise by a similar amount again in October as global demand and shortages push up wholesale prices.

So far, the UK government has temporarily taken £200 off energy bills but energy bosses and charities have warned more support will be needed to help low-income households. On Monday, Scottish Power boss Keith Anderson told The BBC around 10 million households would need £1,000 taken off their energy bills from October to make ends meet. 

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