WEARSIDERS are being warned to take care in the kitchen after a series of fires.
Two potentially serious fires over the past week have led to Dave Jefferson, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, issuing the safety message.
In the first on Sunday morning, a family and their cat had to flee after fire broke out in the kitchen of their Sunderland home.
Luckily, the woman and three children were alerted by smoke alarms, which had been fitted by firefighters at the house in Baxter Square, Town End Farm.
They managed to get out of the semi-detached house, along with the cat, before fire crews arrived at 8.45am.
The fire is believed to be the result of a grill pan which was left on.
The kitchen was destroyed and the rest of the house was damaged by smoke.
A second city family had a lucky escape after breakfast sparked a fire at their home in Grindon.
A woman and two young girls escaped from the house in Goldsmith Road, after fire broke out at 6.45am on Monday.
It is believed a toaster might have started the fire.
Again, the family were alerted by a smoke alarm going off.
Kitchen fires are among the biggest causes of house fires on Wearside, with chip pans the main sources of ignition.
A series of hard-hitting fire service campaigns have seen chip pan fires fall by more than 90 per cent over the last five years – from 289 to 32 in March this year.
However, Group Manager Jefferson, pictured, said people should still be vigilant in the kitchen.
“Fires that start in the kitchen are one of the biggest causes of house fires in Tyne and Wear.
“It’s vital that the public are extra vigilant in the kitchen to ensure that the risk of fire is reduced when they are cooking – from never leaving a pan unattended to ensuring that flammable materials are placed out of reach of cookers, grills and other electrical items such as toasters,” he said.
“Most fires start in the kitchen where it’s easy to become distracted.
“Chip pans can be especially dangerous due to the hot oil. They can cause horrific burns and even death, as well as significant damage to your home.
“I urge everyone who owns a chip pan to ditch it in favour of oven chips or a thermostatically-controlled deep fat fryer, which are much safer.
“I also urge everyone to ensure they have a working smoke alarms fitted in their home and that it is tested weekly.
“There is no doubt that a working smoke alarm can be the difference between life and death, giving you an early warning of fire and vital minutes to escape.
“Our advice in the event of a fire is always to get out, call the fire and rescue service out and stay out. Do not try to put a fire out yourself. To help stop a fire from spreading close the doors on your way out too.”