Candle ‘was likely cause of fatal blaze’

Firefighter say a blaze at a house on North Albert Street, Fleetwood, that led to the death of a pensioner was probably started by a candle.
Firefighter say a blaze at a house on North Albert Street, Fleetwood, that led to the death of a pensioner was probably started by a candle.
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A house blaze which led to the tragic death of a Fleetwood pensioner before Christmas is thought to have been caused by a lit candle, according to firefighters.

William Thompson, 75, was rescued by firemen after a blaze ripped through his North Albert Street home in the early hours of December 9.

But despite being rushed to an intensive care ward at the Royal Preston Hospital, he lost his fight for life later that night, after suffering from burns and smoke inhalation

Now firefighters are warning of the dangers of lit candles, including small tea lights, after a number of similar blazes across Lancashire in 
recent weeks.

Steve Chappell, station manager at Fleetwood, said: “Although inquiries are still ongoing, the early indications are that this was an accidental fire started by the use of candles.

“Forensics specialists are still working with us to confirm these early findings.

“We have had a number of recent incidents with candles across Lancashire and we are advising people not to get blasé, because they are potentially dangerous if not dealt with safely.

“People should place them on a non-combustible surface, away from flammable materials like curtains and to always extinguish them after use.

“Even tea lights can get hot and melt surfaces on baths or televisions sets.”

Mr Thompson, who struggled with his mobility, lived alone in the terraced house.

Mr Chappell said free help and advice was available to people who were elderly, lived alone and had mobility issues, like Mr Thompson.

He added: “We are always available to carry out fire safety checks on residents who are more vulnerable, and relatives can contact us if they are concerned.”

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service launched a campaign on candle safety just before Christmas, warning people they were potentially hazardous. The service said while the number of incidents involving candles “remains low” they can be dangerous if “used incorrectly or left unattended.”

For information about safety checks or smoke alarms, phone 0800 169 11 25.

Mr Thompson was well known to his neighbours, who knew him as Bill.

He had relatives in the town and would often be seen on a motability scooter.

Funeral arrangements are to be announced shortly.