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Urgent warning to Crawley residents after fires from disposable BBQs – watch video

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West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is issuing an urgent warning to residents this summer after attending a string of fires caused by disposable BBQs.

Firefighters from across the county have been called out over the past couple of weeks to attend a number of fires that have begun after a hot BBQ was put in a bin before it had cooled down.

In many of the incidents, the fire has taken hold and destroyed the bin and the surrounding vegetation.

With another warm weekend forecast, and high temperatures expected into next week and the following weekend, the fire service is urging all residents to take extra care when using disposable BBQs.

Marvin Smith, Station Manager for Arundel, East Preston and Littlehampton, said:

“When we have lovely weather like we have over the past few days, there is nothing better than enjoying a BBQ in the sunshine.

“But unfortunately, disposable BBQs are not without their risks, as we have seen already this summer.

“One of our crews was called out to deal with a fire in a wheelie bin in the early hours of the morning, only to find that a disposable BBQ had been put into the bin before it had fully cooled down. It had been smouldering for a couple of hours, before the whole thing went up.”

To demonstrate just how quickly a disposable BBQ can cause a fire to take hold, WSFRS carried out a controlled burn, placing a disposable BBQ that seemed cool to the touch into an old domestic bin provided by Chichester District Council that had reached the end of its life.

After smouldering away for around half an hour, flames melted their way through the back of the heavy duty plastic wheelie bin.

Marvin added: “Had this actually been someone’s rubbish bin, chances are they would have put their BBQ in the bin at the end of the night and gone to bed and thought nothing more about it, until it was too late.”

WSFRS is urging residents to follow the steps below to ensure they and their families don’t fall victim to fire:

  • Make sure that your BBQ is placed on clear level ground where it will not tip over.
  • Use approved BBQ fuel or firelighters to light it, never petrol or paraffin.
  • Keep BBQs away from the house, shed, fences, garden furniture or overhanging trees and shrubs.
  • Keep children and pets well away from the cooking area.
  • Don’t leave your BBQ unattended at any time.
  • If you are lighting a barbeque in the countryside or on the beach – check beforehand that it is an authorised area.
  • When you have finished cooking, pour copious amounts of water over the BBQ and leave for several hours before disposing in a bin. 

Marvin added: “The Met Office is forecasting that the Fire Severity Index is going to be very high this weekend – this means there is an added risk of wild fires. All it takes is for one spark and with the ground as dry as it is, we could have a large fire on our hands. Please take extra care, the last thing you want is us attending your BBQ.”

For more information visit: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/west-sussex-fire-and-rescue-service/home-fire-safety/seasonal-safety-advice/

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Gas leak repaired as 700 Crawley residents evacuated after major incident declared

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A gas leak that caused the immediate evacuation of 700 Crawley residents in flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley has finally been repaired sources have revealed to CN24.

The emergency services responded to a major incident at a large block of flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley at around 12.21am this morning (Wed 6th Jan).

The nature of the leak was so severe that it was declared a ‘major incident’.

A multi-agency response was implemented and Sussex Police worked collaboratively with partners including West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, West Sussex County Council, Crawley Borough Council and Southern Gas to resolve the incident as quickly and safely as possible.

Approximately 700 residents were evacuated and placed in temporary accommodation including hotels.

A source within the emergency services said:

“I have never seen the evacuation of that number of people done so quickly!”

While sources say the gas leak has now been repaired, they added that it will be some time before residents can return due to the need to allow the gas to dissipate.

This has meant that hundreds of residents are now split up across the town in various hotels and shelters awaiting a return to their homes which could take many hours to resolve.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland said:

“This is an ongoing incident which has caused huge disruption to hundreds of people on a cold January morning, and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to work with our partners to minimise the ongoing disruption.

“We are working hard to ensure this is dealt with as soon as possible to enable everyone to return home, however this may take several hours yet. In the meantime, we are urging everyone to stay away from the area to allow the responding agencies to focus on resolving the incident to allow residents to return home.

“The exact cause of the gas leak is yet to be determined but not believed to be criminal, and we will provide more information as soon as we are able to.”

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“The council declared a local authority major incident, supported by all partners, in the early hours of this morning.

“Staff worked together to manage the safe evacuation of residents and to transport them into the temporary accommodation, which was arranged around the town.

“This is an unsettling time for Milton Mount residents and their families. They will be able to return to their homes as soon as it safe for them to do so.”

Milton Mount residents should call 01293 438758 with any questions. Any non-residents with any concerns should call our Contact Centre on 01293 438000

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