Woman started blaze by using a flamethrower to torch garden weeds

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A FIRE service has issued a warning about using a blowtorch to kill weeds after a gardener set a tree, fence and electricity pole alight.

A witness said flames shot 12ft (3.7m) into the air when the woman in Pity Me, Durham, caused the accident while working on her front patio.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue said the incident, at lunchtime on Monday, was swiftly dealt with by a single crew, but it could have been worse.

The gardener was using a blowtorch designed to tackle unwanted plant growth but she may have been caught out by the tinder-dry conditions.

Fire service spokesman Steve Wharton said the aim was to expose weeds to intense heat, thus killing them, but not to “burn them to a crisp”.

He said: “Our advice is to have some water available nearby when you are using the device so you can stop it straight away if it spreads.”